Birth of the Artist

What is art like to the people who are creating it? How is art born? These are my loving thoughts on the life and the Path of a creative, a dreamer, a creator, an artist. It's a favorite poem in Thirsty Camel called "Birth of the Artist."

I don't generally do dedications. To me, most of the time, they seem pretty hokey, bordering even on disingenuous. But here is the truth: I know what it takes to live the life of an artist. I know what it's like to choose a life filled with fourteen-hour days, seven-day workweeks, late nights toiling alone when I'd rather be just about anywhere else. I know what it's like to have to work part-time-jobs and side-jobs to pay the bills, to forego having full-time work that would provide health insurance in favor of more time to create my art. I know what it's like to be looked down on by people who don't quite understand my choices. (Once, someone said to me: "Gosh, I wish I had time to sit and write a poem.") Most of all, though, I know what it's like to have to make art, even on days that I don't really want to.

I didn't really want this life. I used to want a big house and three cars and expensive yearly vacations, and I used to burn with jealousy - even anger - towards people who got to have all of that. I was working just as hard as they were. Maybe even harder. And what did I have to show for it? A Domino's pizza for dinner, a mountain of student loan debt, and a crooked, left-leaning back porch thanks to an apathetic landlord. Yes, absolutely, it was all my own choice and creation. But for a while at least, the ratio of hard work and sacrifice to "comeback" seemed, at best, a bit unbalanced to me.

It wasn't until I began embracing my path as an artist that all of this changed. I realized not long ago that, as a poet, I am giving the greatest gift I know how to give - I am living my bliss - and this fact changes everything for me. Even on days when I'm reluctant, even when I balk and complain, even when I'm misunderstood by the people living in a more materially-driven world, none of this really matters. What matters is what is born from my heart, and in the light of this recognition, any other complaint seems quite trivial and ultimately unnecessary.

I don't generally do dedications. But today, I'm making an exception. Here's to you, dear artist friends, both far and near. Here's to the multitudes of voices, the congregation of hearts – poets, artists, musicians, storytellers, painters, photographers, and so many more – the keepers of peace in these times of warring hearts, warring nations, warring Selves. Once upon a time, in all of your lives, you were born again as artists. And if I'm being completely honest, for most of my own life, I've looked upon you with awe. My personal rebirth happened relatively recently for me, and this is my way of joining you on the Path. So here's to our longings, here's to our art, and here's to the visionary work that is born from our efforts. Here's to the life of the artist, even when we are like reluctant parents. May our children change the world.

Love with all my heart,





Birth of the Artist


i once read that

art is pain


that might be true for some


but i prefer to think

that art is longing

after all

what is pain

but longing

for the truth?


we would be wise to understand

that longing can create an illusion:

a faulty sense of separateness

between one’s beating heart

and the waking, walking world


you might come

to a different conclusion, but

after all i’ve seen,

it seems that the greatest art is made

by those who hold their longings

like the reluctant parent

who didn’t really want this child

but knows as well

that the greatest gift they will ever leave

emerged the day


was born


© 2015  Brandon Thompson