I just finished watching Midnight in Paris, and I was struck speechless by a line Gertrude Stein (played brilliantly by Kathy Bates) said to the protagonist Gil. I’m not sure if this was a real quote from the legend herself, or Woody Allen’s interpretation. Either way it was brilliant.
She says: “We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”
Let me just say … WOW.
As a writer, and I say this with love, many of my fellow writers are tortured souls, myself included. I suffered from depression and anxiety and lurking behind the façade of keeping it all together, of keeping it real and happy was a feeling of emptiness, of despair, of loneliness, and misery.
In other words … many artists LIVE in the emptiness of existence and search their entire lives for the antidote. For some, it may be alcohol, drugs, sex, or shopping … anything in excess … anything used as a means of avoidance or denial; and our day to day life is a slog, trying not to ‘succumb to despair.’
I’d like to offer an antidote, but the truth is there may not be one. This is how our mind functions; it’s what makes us creative, powerful, reflective, brilliant. We are all tortured and troubled. We are all struggling to find meaning, to create order out of chaos, to find relevance and connection in our lives.
If we can’t avoid it, or run away from it, we must accept it. We must find others who share our convoluted way of looking at the world; we must surround ourselves with other writers and artists if only to know we are not alone! We need a support group.