Hayley's Comments

Introspection on Healing, Vegetarianism, and Life

Hayley Rose

Hayley Rose
HayleysComments.com, Connecticut, TheVeggieStand.com
December 31
I was born when Halley’s Comet last appeared overhead and named accordingly. Since then, I've become a writer, artist, and columnist. In addition to Open Salon, my work appears frequently in The Huffington Post, All Things Healing, Gender Across Borders: A Global Feminist Blog, and several other publications. I blog daily at my site HayleysComments.com I recently published my first book, "I Know Why They Call a Shell a Shell." The book is about domestic violence, a topic that I am very vocal about. It chronicles my journey away from tumultuous love affairs by weaving stories of her past with stories from literature, music, and visual art of both modern and classical significance. Find me on Twitter @HRoseStudios


MARCH 27, 2012 12:39AM


Rate: 6 Flag

Most artists in this country are greatly under appreciated. When I refer to most artists, I am not talking about the musicians and actors who are bringing home multimillion dollar paychecks each year. No. I’m talking about the artists who are barely getting by and if they're lucky, still living in their parent’s basements. These artists are hanging onto their last thread of identity, uselessly dragging their fingernails through the sand as the under toe of conformity threatens to pull them in at any moment. They are almost drowning, almost. They are tired. Tired of rejection, tired of trying, and most of all tired of fighting the culture of conformity; an entity that berates their life's choices at every opportunity. Most give up, some drown, but a small percentage hang in there, hoping that each new day might be the day that they get their big break.

The pressure to conform is immense. It does not just come from "well meaning" friends and family who think the solution to the artist's problems is to get a regular 9-to-5 like everybody else. These people do not understand the call the artist is pursuing to begin with. What they've noticed is that the artist in their life is struggling; that they don't have health insurance and barely enough money to pay for gas. In their eyes, these dilemmas are reason enough for the artist to give up on their unrealistic pursuit, their dream, and get a real job. And they view the artistic pursuit as just that: a dream. To them, the artist's goal of sharing their art with the world is an unattainable fantasy.

Those friends and family members aren’t so much a threat as society. Society loves talented artists (when they’re rich and famous) but does not tolerate or make room for the rest of them, and it is the undiscovered talent that makes up the majority. The way American society views art and artists is evident by the nation's public school curriculum. Not a fraction of the endless dollars school districts pour into sports programs ever goes into art programs.

None of this, however, is as bad as the judgement artists endure on a daily basis; during the entire lifespan of their pursuit of dream. They are often judged as lazy, odd, and different. Behind their back, outsiders wonder why they don't just go out and get a 9-to-5, any 9-t- 5, just to pat the bills? They cannot comprehend why artists choose to live at poverty and near poverty levels to pursue their goals when they could just get a real job that pays real money. It is not that simple.

Most artists don't work 9-to-5's and usually have no intention of doing so because it is the very thing they spent their entire lives avoiding. Artists prefer poverty level pay checks and driving beat up old Geo Metros to the luxuries a steady 9-to-5 would provide. To them, it is not about money but spirit, freedom. Those seemingly omniscient outsiders, who just don't understand why an artist won't buckle down and join the real world, have given up their freedom long ago in favor of maintaining a homeostasis they like to refer to as reality. They have sold out and likely subscribed to this realism through the ill advice of others; advice that kept them from pursuing their own dreams. And sometimes they ecourage artists to ignore their call in order to validate their own choices.

Pursuing the goal for an artist is not only a spiritual pursuit, but an unquenchable call. It is a pursuit that can never fully be abandoned, not without a sense of dread or regret that fills the space where the realized dream would've been. Nothing could kill an artist's spirit faster than throwing away their passion in favor of a 9-to-5 position with a nicer car or apartment. The artist would rather retain their freedom and go without.

Some get tired and drop out of the race early never realizing that success may have been just around the corner. It takes endurance. The race is more unsteady and unpredictable than field with a more structured career path (any field really). At times, the rejection seems never-ending. And what's even worse than the unpredictability and the pain of rejection is the money, if there is any. Most of the time it takes years for an artist of any genre to make a dime off the years of heart, time and money they already invested into learning and perfecting their craft.

In my memoir, I Know Why They Call a Shell a Shell: Tales of Love Lost at Sea, I focus on the time I spent on Rhode Island beaches; beaches that were littered with thousands of stones. Regardless of color or rock origin, every single stone somehow became shaped into a smooth flat oval."Soft to the touch, these oval jewels looked like small candies. Each and every one, more perfect than the last; their uniformity took on a manufactured feel."

On one particular day, I picked one up. This oval stone was too light in weight to be made of rock. Was it a rock? I examined it and tried to determine what it was until I noticed that the material of which it subsisted had mother of pearl like quality.

"I squinted at it, then looked at it from different angles. I held it in my hand trying hard to figure out what it was. Suddenly I knew. Though it no longer resembled it, it was not stone, but a shell. Lengthened and now only a few centimeters wide, it had been beaten down. What was once a beautiful shell somehow became pummeled into the exact shape of the millions of stones strewn across the shoreline. Was it the destiny of anything that neared this water; to be shaped and molded into an oval form?"

For some conformity is not an option: it is a death sentence. The harsh judgements are often more painful than all the challenges all artists face because when it comes down to it, these judgements are personal and based on the fact that the artists are just being themselves and following a direction paved by their pulse. It is them against the critics, the squares, labeled so because of their carefully defined boundaries. They know boundaries while artists know no limit.

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"And sometimes they ecourage artists to ignore their call in order to validate their own choices."

"Was it the destiny of anything that neared this water; to be shaped and molded into an oval form?"

The two sentences are directly connected. It would be more honest if they just said "Living like this is wretched, come be the same as us."
Some tried to make me conform.. It never happened.
I must be an artist as I am so stubborn. lol
[r] hayley, wonderful write as always. very well and passionately said. yes, get a REAL job is what they say. Real? Real to whom?

What happened to art for art's sake, education for education's sake in consumer/commercial obsessed America? Give the movie to the box office superstar even though the movie would be enhanced by another persona. What will bring in the biggest money? Who wants a long term classic when an economic KILLING (artistic killing) can be made in the short term, and if it is titillating enough, BIG AND MOVING ENUF AND ENUF MONEY IS POURED INTO PUBLICITY, what is the prob? And the public, well, the bar is so low, and actually if you tug at their real heart strings and stir the gray matter, they won't thank you. They won't meet you halfway for an awakening. Don't disturb the comfort zone by challenging thought and feeling with reality and originality.

Artists have always had to struggle. The public has never been an easy audience. But things are so profoundly worse now. Over-media-manipulated citizenry and power-brokering gamespeople who need a heart to recognize art. Talk about pearls before swine.

Artists are the messengers of soul to souls, and they are being buried alive, especially now in this country that wages faux wars on drugs and terror and a real war on EMPATHY!!! Diploma mills and corporate-profiteering charter schools. Cronyism among the elite may help a few players and gamesmen, cronies of cronies maybe, a few incidentally talented people may slip into the top circle and make some bucks as anointed jesters to the crowned princes and princesses of commercial and economic and political power.

Art and therefore artists deserve nurturing. There is the rub. It and they need time and experience and mentoring to EVOLVE. The smithy of one's soul deserves enough time and fuel required for heating and honing.

But how much more GRATIFYING to watch schadenfreude tv and let Simon Cowell give someone the thumb's down. There is the RUSH for soul-crushed, cynical America. Better than lions and Christians! And so much cheaper for so-called "producers". HAH. Producers or reducers? (my 2-1/2 cents!) best, libby
Ηαyley,this on my oρinion,ought to be an editors ρick.It is so informative,useful..more of the OS members are artists,who- as you so corrctly and meaningfully wrote it-are.."Tired of rejection, tired of trying, and most of all tired of fighting the culture of conformity;".I could not agree more..Unlucky for me,I know my limits and this knowledge is my boundarie.Thank you for sharing such an excellent and interesting issue.Best regards.Rated.
So true, Lheure

Linda you are a perfect example thank God for your non comformity

Z hahaha for sure

Libby WOW. This is a war on compassion isn't it? There is no such thing as the war on drug etc just the war on women and it's true intent an all out war on compassion....no wonder .... Interesting

And Libby of course the worship of the almighty dollar as you mention is the other big issue. Thank you for your always insightful comments

Stalthi Thank you!!! I am glad you are able to relate as it is a frustrating thing with little recognition or understanding given to us from the culture of conformity