I saw Adele last week at her US tour opener, and I went into it expecting to sob. (To prepare, I put on waterproof mascara and took an Ativan to keep the emotions in check.) She was amazing and the show was incredible. I felt like she was a close friend of mine by the end of it.
But I wasn’t an emotional trainwreck like I thought I’d be. I had a few tears and goosebumps at the opening “Hello,” but I was nothing close to the woman behind me, who clutched soaked Kleenex to her chest as she sobbed out the lyrics to every song. This isn’t to say that Adele’s performance wasn’t moving. I was just so awed and focused on the spectacle of it all that I sort of forgot to be emotional.
But I almost lost it when she got to “Chasing Pavements.”
It’s not even my favorite Adele song, either, so that wasn’t why. She prefaced the song with the story of its inspiration, which was deeply personal. (It is Adele, after all.) She talked about her own struggle as an artist, about making art for art’s sake simply because she is a creative being and feeding that passion is what makes her who she is, even when it felt like it was going nowhere.
These words (and the song that followed) felt truer than any others I heard that night. They struck a chord within my own soul because they told me that there is something I’ve always been but never dared to call myself: an artist.
It sounds and looks stupid to say and write it, like an audacious claim I am not prepared to support: Artist.
Artist is aspiration, not hobby. Artist is professional, not amateur. Artist is knowledge and mastery, not me just dabbling with words and phrases, with glue and paint and fabric remnants and whatever broken, discarded furniture I can get my hands on.
But she let me inside her own struggle, and she showed me that she was once a mere dabbler herself. She became an artist. That title comes through work.
So on some primitive level, I related to her struggle, except I was hesitant to call myself an artist of any kind, especially in comparison to the likes of Adele. Making things feeds my soul, even if those pavements lead nowhere.
But that wasn’t why I was crying, either. I was crying because I realized that I’m not truly chasing any pavements. There are several stretched out in front of me, and I’m standing still at the fork. I haven’t been fully giving myself to any art. It’s so easy to get caught up in distractions and procrastinations. I’m overwhelmed by the prospect, even though I’ve had the luxury of time.
I have wasted so much time.
Hearing Adele talk about her times of struggle made me want to put on my shoes and start chasing pavements, even if it leads nowhere.
Because art for art’s sake is enough.
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