The Art of Art
copyright by Paul Nichols 2012
Who knew that the art of art is such an in-depth craft?
Who knew that inspiration comes looking for you? Who knew that inspiration walks along side you, following you around, never saying a word, but always urging the artist in you to a higher plane? Or to a greater piece of music? Or to a most beautiful set of end tables? Or to piles of books and poetry? Or to a baseball bat and glove? Or to a perfectly balanced rock stack?
Really. Who knew?
And why wasn’t I told this when I was about five years old? It could have saved my parents a lot of confusion and angst—inspired by me.
“What do you wanna be when you grow up, son?”
“I can tell you already I don’t wanna go to school—and I sure don’t wanna to take no piano lessons! That’s about it, I guess.”
“Now son, there are rules. We all have rules we have to follow.”
“But, Mom,” I pleaded. “Wait…. Daaaad,” I yelled to the back yard. “do I have to…?”
“Do what your mother tells you, young man,” Dad snarled back from way out there.
I want to know how my dad knew from way out there what my mom had just said way in here.
Guess what. I waddled to school and rubbed shoulders with kids who turned out to be the most inspirational folks I ever met. Grades K – 12. They still are. Writers, musicians, teachers, photographers. Bronco busters with shiny belt buckles. Hunters. On and on. I love them all. We visit briefly almost daily on Facebook. It’s so inspiring.
Guess what else. I reluctantly took piano lessons. So now I like Mozart and Bach and Tchaikovsky and Beethoven and Roger Whitacre and Rock ‘n’ Roll and Alan Menken (I love kids) and Neil Diamond and Queen and The Top Secret Drum Corps and Gabriel’s Oboe and Chubby Checker playing a piano duet with Jerry Lee Lewis. There are many, many more. Many more.
Shall I mention such electrifying, stupefying, whirlwinds of art as Les Misèrables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Phantom of the Opera…? You see what I mean? And there are many more of those, too.
Inspiration touched each of those artists one day and said, “Here, let me make you famous.” And they listened. And they worked at it. And they practiced. They weren’t the only ones. Why, there are folks who are as old as this earth who led the way. They all sacrificed and went without. They rarely got paid and they didn’t care. And the world is a brilliantly wonderful place.
I was not so noted. I always suspected that inspiration was there. I just couldn’t bring myself to follow my heart without my parents’ or my wife’s permissions. “Get a job and keep it, son.”
I started college in1970. (There’s that school again, only this time I took 2 of my kids with me.) While I was there I met the lovely and multi-talented Paige Van Horne who sprang right off the Inspiration Vault. She stuck it, landing right beside me. “Hi,” happily. She was Inspiration in the flesh.
So in my last year (1974), I wrote a novel, which was a graduation requirement. Along with Paige I included Ansel Mortgage, Jesse Ford, and Ranza Castillo, Paige’s best friend. I got an A and finally finished school. I put the novel in a box formerly used for blank typing paper. Then I went back to work delivering packages.
(For the record, I killed Paige’s parents in the first chapter of the book. In a hydroplaning accident out on I-35. Suddenly, just before her 18th birthday she became an orphan. And in about the 13th chapter her friend Jesse had a similar accident on an icy side road. He lived, but it nearly killed Paige. “Oh, no! Dear God! No! Not again!” she screamed. She refused to faint. “I have to go to him. He needs me!” Somebody gave her a water bottle.)
One night, maybe ten years later, while I was snoozing deep in the night, I heard someone say “Paige Van Horne.” Clear as day. I was up and out of bed in a flash. Only my wife was in the room, sound asleep.
Guess what again. In the morning, I opened my e-mail and there was a message from my journalism professor. In the subject line he typed “Paige Van Horne”.
I want to know how Mr. Bohrer’s e-mail from Oregon gave voice to someone in my bedroom.
Inspiration? Yes, inspiration. Inspiration is a living entity and it goes where it wants to go. Does what it wants to do.
I use a little corner of a spare room in our apartment. I call it “my office.” I’ve written and sold books there. I wrote 51 technical books and many professional papers—all for somebody else. I wrote articles and letters to friends; I did a blog for awhile and I post on Facebook, a veritable garden of delightful friends. Sometimes I find inspiration there just sitting there waiting for me.
My office will do for now. I’ve got books and references of all kinds. I think they are in cahoots with Inspiration, who has never left me—or at least hasn’t gone very far away.
And every once in awhile, Paige and Jesse, Ansel and Ranza whisper this to me: “Please come get us, Paul. Don’t you know that even the very words of God are inspired? “
“We think he wants you to shovel us into the public,” said Ansel. He’s a genius.
“He’s got your back, too, Bro. He is Inspiration.” That’s Ranza. She speaks Spanish.