I find hangovers to be one of the best feelings in the world. Most people would rip my head off for saying that, the typical hangover being a nauseous medley of pain and regret. I must be one of the lucky ones spared from this phenomenon. Sure, I get the occasional headache, but I usually wake up from a night of drinking with a subtle sense of infinite euphoric creativity. Like there’s an overarching absurd poetry to life, a benevolent trickster god looking over and protecting us.
Ideas spurt from the ground, enter through my soles and shoot through my body into my brain. My head is not mine, it’s spinning away in parallel realities. My ego has yielded its control to a motley crew of drunken zen masters and holy fools.
Alcohol isn’t the only things that brings this about. Sometimes it stems from meditation, fasting, or intense exercise. These all push my ego out and make room for archetypes; I inhabit the life and mind of a sage or a warrior. Thinking stops and being happens. This time period is irrelevant, I’m connected to the lives of a thousand humans before me, a legacy of roles to be played and meanings to enact. In other people I interact with sometimes I can see the same phenomenon surface. It’s like a beautiful ancient interconnectedness, we all feel it at times, we know it’s there…
Is self-destruction a necessary part of creation? That would explain the mad artist, the drunk writer, the psychotic actor, the depressive comedian. If you don’t visit the depths you can’t come back up with anything good. Too bad all the good fish are hiding so deep.
Still I wonder why we constantly self-destruct. There’s no rational reason for it, yet most of us do it in one way or another. If not we’d all be model bodybuilding overachieving machines. So many of us are overweight, alcoholics, junkies… What pushes us not to strive for perfection but for pleasure instead? Is it some kind of crazy wisdom, a careless enjoyment of the moment regardless of the consequences?
It’s beautiful to see it that way. If we live in the moment as we give in fully to pleasures, we’re as respectable as a Buddhist monk. Except that the euphoria is fleeting, frustratingly ephemeral. The monk works to achieve a constant peaceful state of mind. Addicts get it in little doses, aiming for shortcuts and ending up asking for more. A smoker’s high lasts as long as a cigarette. A mystic enjoys it for the rest of his life.
Ups and downs are a part of life, and I feel like there’s two kinds of people regarding that. Those who try to minimize the range between their highs and their lows, and those who want to maximize it. In the former category I’d place most people, who aim to stay in their comfort zone. The latter is the battleground of adventurers… artists and actors.
Those, we could say, see it as their life’s calling. They live life exploring their deepest fears, and some days bounce up feeling the most pure, raw, euphoric things. But at both ends they’re intensely alive, and that’s what counts. They were fully present when it happened, and now they’re ready to share it with a public, channel it through their art. Paint it or write it or act it. That’s why it takes courage to be an artist. It involves diving deep into the self, something people spend their life avoiding.
It shows when someone puts their very soul in their work. You can hear it in the voice of the signer, see it in the strokes of the painter. Great poets’ words seem to come from a place of eternity.