I've been thinking a lot lately about the link between art and pain. A lot of the artists, writers, musicians I know have experienced a great deal of personal pain in their lives. They are often able to use the fear, sadness, and anger in their work. Or perhaps it is the other way around and their work is an outlet - a way for them to deal with the pain. Either way, I am not a person who has experienced a great deal of loss or tragedy in my life (I feel as though I'm walking on eggshells, giving fate the finger as I write this. I am by no means inviting pain into my life). I was musing on whether this affects my ability to create on a relate-able level. I'm not immune to pain, obviously, and have experienced several moments of defined emotional agony in my twenty-six years, it just isn't a frequent circumstance (yet?).
One thing I do know, I feel the pain of others, deeply. I have a reputation for being fairly blunt. "Honest" is the euphemism I'm usually handed, followed by a quick "but that's a good thing!" to ease any embarrassment they may feel for outing such an obvious quality. Usually people seem to think that bluntness is coupled by a lack of sympathy, or empathy, given the situation. Though this may be true for some, for me this isn't the case. I feel so deeply for those in my life experiencing pain. I can see it in their eyes when they fake a smile, slip into a mask, and its all they can do to carry on. I see it in the eyes of strangers as they walk down the street in a daze, and I want to know their story, to make them better even just for a moment. Maybe being an artist simply means opening your mind to the sadness, or on the flip side the joy, that others around you are experiencing. People always say to write what you know, but I know people and that leaves the door of possibility wide open.
Is good art conditional on pain? Perhaps, but I don't think it needs to be your own.