she’s got everything she needs….she’s an artist, she don’t look back


“She Belongs to Me” Bob Dylan

I look back.

I look back fondly at songs that talk about not looking back.

What’s up with that?

There was a time when I thought that I wanted to be an artist.

Maybe you never really completely stop being something? Maybe what I thought I wanted to do is still inside me somewhere…I don’t really know.

Being a mailman brings home a lot more consistent paycheck than being a full-time artist.

But being an “artist” sounds so much cooler than being a mailman, somehow.

“What do you do?” is a silly question in some ways.  It’s an easy question…the person asking it doesn’t have to have any real insight or sensitivity…doesn’t have to even really care about the answer.

Maybe it just shifts the attention away from what the “asker” does…a preemptive strike before the question can be asked of them?

“What do you do?”

“Well…I’m an artist.”

“No…that’s not what I meant. What I meant was …what do you do? What do you do for a living? How do you make your money?”

The money part legitimizes it somehow.

“I’m an artist.”

That would be simple and direct…satisfying…to be able to say that and just stop describing.

Better…but less realistic…than, “I’m an artist…but I spend most of my time waiting tables.”

Or driving the mail around.

It is cooooool to have a profession that pays the bills. That’s unexpected and appreciated.

Paying the bills is a grown-up thing to do.

Paying the bills…..

I look back.

I’m thinking about hands stained with graphite, looking at an easel filled with the frantic beginnings of what I hope might be something good, trying to figure out where to go with this new piece of “artwork”, trying to work out the problems.

I’m thinking about how satisfying it is to commit something to canvas or paper and not have any idea where I might be going with it.

I’m thinking about my place in the air…standing on the ground.

I’m thinking about how it felt to be surrounded with other people doing the same thing…trying to figure things out.

College is good in a lot of ways.

College can also be bad, I suppose.

If it’s the end of an education…if you get out and decide that you’re done with all that “learnin’ “…well, that would be pretty sad.

If anything convinces you that you’re “done”…I guess that would be a bad thing.

“She never stumbles…she’s got no place to fall.”

Maybe if you never really stand up, your chances of falling disappear?

“Just keep your head down…we’re going to make it through this…”

I wouldn’t trade a willy-nilly creative life for the “security” my family now knows.

“Security” can be kind of willy-nilly, too…but it sure is a lot less stressful than worrying about “the bills” all the time.

I don’t want to jump at something that sounds “cool” when people depend on my consistency.

But gypsy nomad, artist/musician, child of the universe…school bus living, desert sunrise viewing, campfire omelet making, live-r and lover…roamer and shaker, bread baker, “hello” maker, tax evader…no, not that one…small tax payer…smiler….sounds awfully good to me.

It’s pretty subversive to figure out how to be a free spirit on a tight schedule….bottled up but uncontained.

I’m a “secret soarer”….another leaf on the wind.

I’m an artist.

About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.


she’s got everything she needs….she’s an artist, she don’t look back — 1 Comment

  1. Amy Carmichael wrote in “Edges of His Ways,”reading for Feb 20th. “Dear cork-up bottles, do go and get uncorked! There is only One who can take out the corks of self-love, or shyness, or sleepiness, or whatever it is that keeps you from pouring out for others all you have been given. He who was always sweetness poured forth. (“Thy Name is as ointment poured forth”), He can uncork your bottle, and then all you are and have will be used in joyful service of others.” Peter, sounds to me like you are “uncorked,” and are pouring your life out into your family! That is what love is all about…”love isn’t love until you give it away.”