People -- friends, fans, family -- tell me they think I’m brave, most recently referring to my move back to New York, but people said it about my first move to New York when I was 20, about my life of poverty and art in the 80s, about J’s and my decision to live on the road, etc.
Brave? I don’t know. I never felt particularly brave, just scared. I think sometimes I certainly did what excited me regardless of risk, did what I wanted to do while brushing aside any notion of danger, but many many times, those apparently courageous choices were actually just me doing what I thought was the least terrifying option available.
Absolutely the thing I am most scared of, because I am literally afraid I would commit suicide, is giving up art and getting a regular job. I’m not sure why that is so awful to contemplate because sometimes it sure seems like it would be a hell of a lot more pleasant than all this uncertainty, rejection, disappointment, poverty, frustration, but I can’t even contemplate it without starting to feel panicky.
Art-making has brought me countless moments of pure joy, thrills beyond anything I imagined, and deep satisfaction, but I also associate it with a constant background of anxiety. I don’t mean the economic anxiety that has resulted from choosing this life, but a more general “I have to do something but I’m not sure what it is” anxiety that I’ve felt ever since I can remember. It’s always there, and I regard it rightly or wrongly as the source of my creativity.
Am I brave? Most of the time, I feel like these big life choices are out of my hands, like someone or something else is pushing me along.
Giving up, it seems to me, would take real courage because that’s where the real demons live.