The Sleeper Has Awakened

Brian GriffithsArt inspiration

“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”

Frank Herbert, from the classic science-fiction novel, Dune

Sleepwalking through life, I thought I knew what this dream was about, but it’s the worst of nightmares, endless, like a tunnel with a light that keeps advancing the further you walk down it, never getting bigger to open to the fresh sky and the molten sun, but just maddeningly a pinpoint at the furthest reaches of my vision.

A friend once told me his view of hell was one line that lead to another that lead to another, ad infinitum, for eternity. Sound familiar? Is that your life? It’s been mine. Waiting, endless waiting, the future always an advancing frontier of “someday.”

To be me, being an artist isn’t a hobby but is a core part of my being. It was never a phase that could easily be swept aside to do “serious work” as an adult. This society rewards easily those who agree with it: get an education, do something practical, be a plugging success. Then of course you get rewarded with a paycheck, a 401K and your two weeks’ vacation each year. I’ve tried so long to agree.

I’ve really tried. But it’s not for me. Artists by nature disagree with the existing state of affairs: they create new worlds, new perspectives and new thought, and by nature that’s disagreement on a high plane. It’s tough to fit yourself into a square hole when you’re an irregular star-shaped peg. I’ve tried to play it safe because this society too turns its back on those who don’t agree.  The fear of disinterest, abandonment, and ridicule can be powerful.

“Artist” as a label is both a blessing and a curse: if for any second in reading this you’re thinking I’m being an ass and that I just “need a real job” then realize that you’re just forwarding the curse and the reactive tendency of this unthinking behemoth to try to force back into line anyone who might step out of line.

For me, the sleeper has awakened. If you feel the same emotions tug at your heart, the same stirrings in your soul, crushed by a tyranny of compliance, slit your eyes in the breaking dawn. The light may dazzle and confuse you at first. But if you’re like me, you may never feel happy in the deepest, most fulfilling sense unless you’re creating new worlds. A small voice, deep inside, may still whisper,

“The sleeper must awaken.”