Close your eyes and listen.
Let it come to you.
And it will come.
This morning I sat.
And I thought I heard, no, I knew I heard, the sound of breaking waves.
The sound of water ebbing and flowing, washing whitely over the rocks before receding along the sand.
The cycle of nature, repeating itself.
The cycle of endless regeneration.
And I felt something, deep in my heart.
A strengthening of the muscle.
A quickening of the beat.
A pulsating throb creating flow.
The energy of the artist at work.
Engineers build bridges.
Artists engineer change.
Artists deliver difference.
Our stock in trade is revelation.
Suddenly the phrase be the change made sense to me.
In the context of art.
In the context of God the creator, the ultimate artist, who spoke the world to life with words. Who created light from darkness, being from nothingness. Who brought forth what was not there before. Whose light illuminates every manuscript. Whose music speaks to every composer. Whose hand guides every chisel, brush, and pen.
Be the change.
Banish anger, bitterness, and frustration.
Send them packing.
Fill yourself with love and light.
Give of your heart and free your words.
Spill your blood onto the pages.
The blood of sacrifice.
Sail across the wine dark sea.
Show them the struggling.
The rising again.
And break like waves upon their heads.
Leave your mark.
And make it . . .
Creative freedom is not something you indulge.
It is a serious commitment to being yourself.
To using your brokenness to make the world a little more whole.
The most misunderstood thing about artists is that we’re flaky, irresponsible, and self-indulgent.
The world of products and services, of punch clocks and process improvement, of makework and manufacturing, of profits and five-year plans lays down a challenge. The world asks: How dare you make art when there is work to be done?
Well, I speak back the artists’ challenge: How dare you waste time when there art to be made?
How dare you expend precious resources making things that don’t matter?
How dare you squander ingenuity, consume creativity, and crush spirit in a vise? How dare you try to quench the fire of inspiration?
In my challenge, there is no anger.
Because those who would deny art its primacy have somehow lost their wonderment, their sense that anything at all can be wondrous, that life can be magical, surprising, and extraordinary.
Round them up, the captains of conformity, the paragons of playing it safe.
And ship them off.
Make them spend a month in the museum, a week immersed in Beethoven, a day reading Dickens, a night in bed with Nabokov.
For God’s sake, make them feel. Even if just for a moment.
I will not raise my children to be cogs, to be cut and shaped and filed and smoothed for someone else’s purpose.
I hereby and henceforth set them free.
Free to follow their own compass and set their own course.
Free to breathe fire, to inflame the world with their genius.
Free to leave their own indelible marks.
Free to be artists.
Free to be the change.
Originally published on Tom Aplomb