Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Are Artists too Sensitive for Real Life?

I have carried the following Pearl Buck quote around for years, first in my wallet and then to make sure it doesn’t disintegrate, I taped it in one of my journals:

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a love, a love is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create---so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.

Obviously, I resonate with this quote or I would not have preserved it so carefully for so many years. I was a speech/theatre major and vocal music minor in undergraduate school I have performed in front of audiences since I was 5 years old. Art of one kind or another is my very being.

I remember a long ago choir rehearsal with orchestra. At one point our choir director explained to the orchestra members, “Singers are a bit paranoid and sensitive.” In thinking over that comment, I decided we, singers are more paranoid than the orchestral artists because our instrument is literally part of our bodies. There is no one-step separation. I have since learned that all artists, regardless of medium can be too sensitive for life in the real world.

I once ran across a correspondence between my step-daughter and my son, Mark. She was explaining to Mark that they were more sensitive (they share the Bartella blood line) individuals than I. I was furious and snapped back at both of them, “Just because I am strong, doesn’t mean I am not sensitve. I have had to be strong to survive!”

I suspect they are not the only persons who have determined I am not the sensitive sort. Believe me, I am. I just often lick my wounds in private. And with the wisdom of years, I acknowledge, we survivor types when hurt will often go in to attack mode because if it’s fight or flight, survivors fight---even when our sensitive feelings have been hurt.

Are you a sensitive artist? Do you resonate with the Pearl Buck quote? Are you a fight or flight sensitive person?

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