a manifesto for artists living with chronic mental or physical illness
As artists, we are always working. We are writing in our head, jotting down impressions and ideas, dictating voice memos to ourself; paintings and sculptures drop into our mind or reveal themselves in dreams; we are listening to the inflections of conversation, the sounds of birds, traffic, and ocean, composing in our head. We are working just by being present and paying attention. We are always part of the Great Movement. We are its transcriptionists.
The meta mind might be over-analyzing the degree of brain fog and incohesion and inability to communicate clearly, but those who know us best rarely notice what we think is an obvious shortcoming. We may be moving more slowly, thinking through fevered heads and haze, but we are whole and know ourselves as such.
Our value is not measured by how much we produce.
Our illness does not define us; we define ourselves.
Everyone has limitations, self-imposed or otherwise. To be alive in a human body is to be inherently limited. To be transcendent is to transform limitations into gifts.
We meet ourselves where we are.
We use what we have. If today we’re operating at 30% capacity, i.e., 30% of our usual energy or 30% of our usual brain power, we use that 30%—because that’s 100% of us. We always have something to offer—and receive.
We feel fully our experience. We record that, if nothing else. We document our own life—or the way in which life appears to us—in its fullest, most honest expression.