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Art School Hauntings

Sarah Kappos's picture

Sitting here at the computer, I just had the thought:

Isn't there some more laundry that needs to be done?


But there isn't.  I did it all yesterday.  I folded it.  I put it away.  I cleaned all the toilets.  I mopped the kitchen.  I went through baby Beckam's clothes and set aside the stuff he has outgrown.


As I vacuumed the entire house, even stuffing the hose extension into the corners, I thought, 

Look at you.  You are falling for the illusion that if you get everything done, you can relax. You have to relax in the midst of everything, because IT is never-endingYou are funny, Sarah. Tomorrow you will have no excuse not to write.



I called a woman I know to see how she was doing.  I called because her best friend had just died.

I asked,  "How are you? "

She replied, "I'm ok.  I've just been cleaning a lot."


Cleaning.  It is our best drug.  It is odorless, tasteless, and not a single house-wife can be faulted for it's indulgence.  It allows me the illusion that everything is exactly as it should be.  The red dish towel is hanging in my mostly green kitchen.  A perfect compliment.

Every pair of the kids' shoes are in a separate compartment.

The toilets without a single splash of urine anywhere.


Beckam slept from noon until 4 pm and all I did was clean.  What a waste of silence.

But sometimes I rebel against myself.  I don't know why I do this.  My Art Professor used to call it:  "The War of Art".  There is a book about it.  I just looked it up on Amazon.  It costs $9.85. There are 7 holds on it at the City Library.  Apparently we all want to know how to win.  But I already know.  Just keep going...no matter what. No matter what your head tells you, don't believe her.  She will tell you it's not important.  No one cares.  You are not different.  Nothing you have to express matters. No one cares about your mundane experience.

In the face of all this doubt, I write anyway.  I teach anyway.  Right now I teach an adult art class at the family homeless shelter. They are so excited every Friday. They are excited for one hour of color and focus.  I know it will not change their lives.  It takes 1,000's of droplets to force a wave of change


Another thing my professor used to say is,

"There are literally 1,000's of art students in studios just like this, doing the same thing you guys are doing.  If you don't care about your art, no one else will either."


He'd say,

"If you don't need to paint, when you leave here, you won't."


Now it is 3 years later, and I need art more than ever.  I know it's cliche, an artist who needs to create the salvation of her soul.  Without art, her soul will shrivel into a brown peel and be ground into the dirt.

I am ok with that.  Because I am not cultivating this soul for anyone other than the people I love, and they are worth it.  We are worth paying attention to.  We are worth aching for...attaching to.  I would rather love and suffer.  Here again, I fly in the face of the detached Buddhist I sometimes aspire to be.  However I am not other-worldly.  I live here.  I want to live here.




Melanie Bates's picture


Your writing just literally takes my breath away, so quiet and strong.

Thanks for this reminder.


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