We don’t have to look back very far in 2011 to see the enormous and often bizarre challenges we were met with. By all accounts, it was a very difficult year. Here in the Northeast, it started with the endless winter that pushed straight through spring, followed the summer of the big hurricane, the fall of the blackouts, and the winter that tanked Halloween, so millions of tiny tots missed out on trick or treating as well as a white Christmas.
It’s a good year to have behind us, and one we can be proud we all survived. The economy was as strange as the weather, with companies holding job fares and then closing their doors within weeks of each other. We lost big retailers like Borders Books, and Sears is imploding, closing an estimated 120 stores in early 2012. While scouting for film locations in Connecticut this year (one of my miscellaneous jobs in the arts), I saw hundreds of vacated properties—foreclosed and soon to be foreclosed homes willing to invite movie crews, and tons of businesses that had closed their doors. I had one assignment looking for old gas stations, but what I found were dozens of recently abandoned ones. One day they were open, and then next day nobody showed up to work.
I also visited a number of places in upstate New York that were so hard hit by the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. There were roads and bridges completely washed out, and towns dotted with FEMA trailers. For the first time in my lifetime, the evidence of the daily struggle for survival is all around us.
But we can hope we are through the worst of the worst of the storm, because the world platform also changed in big ways that will affect every day of our future. Osama bin Laden was caught and killed; the Iraq war formally ended without much fanfare and Kim Jong-Il, the mean little despot who ruled North Korea and menaced the free world passed away quietly, leaving a muddy pool of uncertainty behind.
And through it all, a new American Idol was crowned (although we care not who it was), Justin Beiber made many more millions touring, and Adele sold 5.28 million copies of her album “21” in 2011—more than anyone in the past 7 years (including GaGa and Katy Perry). The final Harry Potter film (Deathly Hallows Part II) broke all box office records, with both the highest grossing opening day and the highest opening weekend gross of all time, and a Picasso painting set an all-time record at auction at Christies, commanding $106.5 million, after a year of huge bidding for old masters such as Dali and Giocometti and other Picassos.
So at a time when the world seemed headed for darkness, people continued to find escape and inspiration where they have always found it—in the arts.
And if one thing survived the awful years we have come through, it is Hope. Let’s ignore the dark pundits planning for global disintegration in 2012—because if it happens, we’ll never really be ready anyway. Let’s live every moment that we have in the fullest expression of who we all are. Let’s paint and draw and sing and dance and write and make the world a better place one single moment at a time.
…So this is what I’m going to do—be me, only more so. I want to make sure I really become the person I planned on being. And now that I now know the universe is completely in charge of how that plays out, I can relax and stop trying to control it. I cannot plan for success or love or even how a painting or something I’m writing may turn out. All I can do is do it, and leave the rest to Providence, and believe that in the end, good things will come of it all.
What we need from artists in 2012 is truth. Don’t paint what you think we want to see, or sing to the beat that everybody else does. Paint what you see, sing what you hear, write what you believe. And somewhere in all of that, we will all find our way out again.
To quote a Kenny Loggins* song, “There’s a whole other life just waiting to be lived…one day we’re brave enough to talk with conviction of the heart.”
Welcome to 2012…and a delicate new world full of possibility!
Happy New Year from Arts Enclave!
© 2012 Arts Enclave.
This video is from the Live at the Redwoods DVD, the song is from the Leap of Faith album – both available at KennyLoggins.com