This been stuck in my head for THREE days…
The need to quantify talent is deeply ingrained in me. I feel like it’s packed away neatly inside my cells, tucked up against my DNA, just as inescapable as the gene sequences that make my eyes brown and my hair curly.
And it isn’t just about money, although I suppose that’s one way to do it. “Look at all this dough I got when I did (insert talent here)!” But it’s not really what I’m talking about.
Praise, I suppose. Recognition definitely, it’s like a drug, so slow moving opiate you get addicted to before you even know what is happening.
At first, when praise is scarce, when gushing love for your work, whatever it may be, pours down on you like heated honey, euphoria sings through your limbs, a lightness in your chest somewhat like a fluttering butterfly catches you by surprise. What wonder is this? You didn’t expect it, really, doing this thing you do just because you love it.
But now you’re tainted. You still do the thing you love for yourself, not really caring whether or not other people see or enjoy it, but in the back of your mind you wonder, “Will it happen again?”
And then, if you were born under a particularly ill omened star, it does happen again, and that high zips through you even faster this time, burning away to ash and cinders impossibly fast. Then there’s an emptiness that was never there before, and echoing hollow in the center of your being.
You know exactly what intangible thing can fill the emptiness, but it isn’t free, and your creative currency doesn’t grown on trees, or fall like rain from the sky. You never realized before how infrequent your bursts of true inspiration were, how few and far between your truly unique ideas came.
But you’re jonesing for it, a new melancholy enveloping you. It’s a novel feeling, one that makes you sick, claws at your insides like thirst, so you go back to that old praise and recognition, drinking it in like a poor soul lost in the desert, but it’s used up and quenches nothing.
So maybe you don’t have inspiration, and maybe your ideas are trite and cliché, but you need that fix anyway, you can feel your spirit withering with each passing minute.
So you fake it, glancing surreptitiously over your shoulder as you cobble together some new creation, slapping mud in the cracks before you cover it up with a fresh coat of paint and bullshit. And by some miracle, your counterfeit passes inspection. The dealer hands your your fix, and as the words slip in your ears, an bliss filled sigh slips from your lips.
It courses through your veins like liquified sunshine, tingling and warm as it reaches your center, filling up that seemingly bottomless chasm. You’re high on it, eyes rolling back in pleasure.
But something is wrong, the vessel containing your bliss is flawed, holes like a sieve scattered across the bottom, all your liquid sunshine escapes, leaving an even bigger and blacker hole than before.
This time you’re quick to run back to the work room, pull out the pen and paper, the paints and brushes, whatever it is you use, and you madly start slapping hackneyed phrases in the page, dashing paint haphazardly against the canvas, barely letting it dry before running back in the street to proudly display it.
The fawning throng is waiting for you still, expectantly, eyes wide with their own drug induced euphoria, and you stand before them holding your latest creation over your head, turning this way and that so everyone can see, shouting until the air has squeezed from your lungs. “Look!”
And then, nothing, even the drugged masses can see, you’re a fraud, you don’t deserve their praise. The silence deafens you, like ice picks shoved in your ears angrily, puncturing the thin tissue of your ear drums.
You collapse where you stand, your work shattering against the pavement, and you don’t care, you never loved it anyway.
The throng slowly drifts away, a few stalwart hangers on pacing restlessly beside you, sure that you’ll spring back, light their eyes with a new masterpiece in no time.
But even they disappear eventually, as you lay unmoving on the hard ground, your addiction eating away at you from the inside out. It attacks the heart first, shrinking the organ into a cold stone. Your muscles atrophy, and you can no longer remember what it was like to walk amongst the living.
Praise is a dangerous thing.
I never wish to be easily defined. I’d rather float over other people’s minds as something strictly fluid and non-perceivable; more like a transparent, paradoxically iridescent creature rather than an actual person.