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by Billy Butler

Lights up on an artist painting.

I didn’t ask to have this “gift”. Most of the time I don’t even want it. All it has brought me is pain, frustration, heartbreak, poverty… but for some reason… I have to put paint to canvas. My ex calls it, a hobby. A fucking hobby. A lifestyle choice. I was told that I should be more responsible, pay my bills, do my taxes, keep my head firmly up the man’s ass. I wish I could. I’ve tried. I once painted houses with a crew that listened to Rush Limbaugh all day. So much so, I almost became a convert. I drove a cab for a week, but they fired me for not being able to pay for upkeep on the car. I guess I was giving to many free rides. I felt bad charging old people for a ride to the doctor’s or the grocery store. Then I tried a desk job but after a month was told I they were streamlining the staff and I was being “downsized”. I told them I wouldn’t leave until they could give me a real explanation on what downsized meant. Security explained it very well. I’ve done just about every kind of schmoe job there is… it proves that there’s something wrong with me. I’m unbalanced… Picasso-ed… I’m an artist.

Some are driven by greed, some by nature, others by love. There’s the difference I think. I don’t know what drives me. Not sure if I want to know. Some days I go hours… standing here, staring… my thoughts paused… the paint hardening on my brush… then a wave hits me and I’m outside of myself, standing in my own light… and the inanimate becomes animate and I’m amazed as I watch the strokes of my imagination take form and become real. It never turns out the way I want though and most of the time I hate it. It’s never good enough. Isn’t that funny?

What if I was born blind or deaf or some other so-called handicap? Would it still be called a hobby? We all know that being an artist is about as developmentally disabled as you can get. We are not rational, can’t be controlled, emotionally crippled and completely dysfunctional. I have about as much control over my behavior as anyone else with a social impairment. But I don’t want help… and I don’t need therapy or a cure. I don’t have a choice. I have to paint.

The artist turns the canvas around revealing a person with it’s eyes, ears, mouth and nose sewn shut, holding a brush in hand painting the same.


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