Why creators suffer

loc jefferson building

“No great Thinker ever lived and taught you
All the wonder that his soul received

No true Painter set on canvas
All the glorious vision he conceived

No Musician ever held your spirit
Charmed and bound in his melodious chains,
But be sure he heard, and strove to render,
Feeble echoes of celestial strains.”

Excerpts from “Unexpressed,” a poem by Adelaide Anne Procter

I have long planned to write an article about why creators suffer. It was to be a thoughtful article of longish length. Alas, as often happens, real life interfered, and such an endeavor never took flight…until now.

I visited the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress this weekend, a beautiful work of art for anyone, but a veritable cathedral for lovers of knowledge. As I wandered the main hall, reading the inscriptions, I happened upon fragments of the poem above. Poetry: what a powerful medium of expression! Since it succinctly captures the essence of my unborn article, I no longer need to write it.

Creators suffer because they seek to capture the impossible and to present it as a gift to mankind. It can be a thankless, tiresome job, but they cannot stop any more than they can cease to breathe. It is a calling, not a vocation. To have seen what they have seen; to know what they know is both a blessing and a curse!

One thought on “Why creators suffer

  1. Many creators gravitate toward alcohol, drugs, and other addictions. To be sure, many use these things to “deal with” or escape the hardships of reality, but the prospect of “flying high” likely appeals to all of them.

    It’s a glorious feeling, but like Icarus, they inevitably plummet. The human mind was never designed to be stimulated constantly. Without rest, it begins to unravel. Like our lifespans, sleep is our limiter–it keeps us from becoming gods!

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