Without fail, those things that make you feel good come with a poison sac of overwrought side-effects. In short, everything that feels good can kill you. That includes fitness. Our modern definition of fitness is often veiled anorexia with a touch of body image disorder. I find those who are enthralled with working out are often among the craziest people out there. Point is – our culture has reached a terrible place in this regard where Puritan values and plain old guilt have blocked most, if not all, ways to easily enjoy the pleasures afforded by life. Realize that the guilt attached to sex, drugs, and any other abnormal pursuit (travel, art, etc.) is artificial. There is no reason why you cannot choose to engage in anything, as long as it hurts no one directly.
This guilt has far-reaching implications in our society. For example, the insistence on a par-for-course mode of life after college has effectively strangled and killed our creative production in this country. Unlike other current and past societies that place high value on artists and their work, America will give a magnanimous “that’s nice” and look towards the 9-to-5’er who is playing by the banal rules set forth in the unspoken campaign against pleasure. Artists struggle and face a life of poverty unless they get very lucky or artificially steer their art to be commercially viable. most good art, by its very nature, is not commercially viable (read: It can’t be turned into a commercial, or used therein).
It is important in a time when stress levels have birthed a litany of adverse health conditions, to be dedicated to pleasing yourself. If that means you must, within reason, experiment with drugs, then do it. The stress you allay will balance the health risks of your behavior. For further clarification on this issue and the meaning of art in its fullest sense, it is necessary to explain the perspective of a creative mind. Further, it is necessary to note the negative effect on this mind of artificial constraints and even commercial success.
Certain people feel too much. I can speak as one who is such a person. It is like I am outside in a rainstorm and everyone else has an umbrella, but i am getting pummeled by each raindrop. Soaking wet, I look around and wonder where all of these comfortable people got their shelter and why I have no idea how to get one. The raindrops in this metaphor are the barrage of interactions we encounter every day. Whether they are with people or with merely the world around us, interactions stir emotions and artistic people get impacted (or wet) by each one. It is necessary for these people to let out their emotions, to dry off, to lighten the burden on their childlike spirits. Enter the arts. Art, whether good or bad is necessary for the health of these individuals. Once a person finds that they can express these feelings in pictures, sounds, or words they are at ease because they have an outlet. Now, if society would embrace this expression and encourage it, the artist could hone their craft and make it speak to other people. One must not be one of the “umbrella-less” to appreciate and derive happiness from identifying with the artist through their work and saying “It feels good to know that I am not the only one who feels this way.” This is the healthy web of art and how is is a wonderful, cathartic, and positive part of any society. It is worth far more than a drone who works only for a paycheck and, it is far more rare.
By not giving artists a viable choice in the professional world, our modern society has bred a family of bland, safe, and unsatisfying music, books, and movies. If the starving artist were given a path to make a living doing what they were meant to do, we would all see better musical choices than Paris Hilton and the Spice Girls reunion. We would breed authors like Dickens and poets like Rimbaud.
It is important to do things that re not safe. It is important to do what most people don’t do. Because, in the ever narrowing list of options for a young adult to “make a living” we must remember that these chices are artificial and only reflect an unprecedented wave of conformity that must be stopped to better the lives of everyone. Because now, even when the artists become popular, they begin to doubt whether they are being true to who they really are. I cite the tragedy of Kurt Cobain, the great frontman for Nirvana. Once he became an enormous success, he felt that it must be because he was unwittingly conforming to the will of the record companies, et. al. Hence his sadness, depression, and eventual suicide. This is a great waste and will continue to happen as long as we do not provide shelter and support for artists in our midst.