Much of life, and certainly all of art, is about perspective. You’ve no doubt have heard the phrases, “In the eye of the beholder,” “From where I’m standing,” and my personal favorite, “The toes you step on today, may be attached to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.” They are all clichés about perspective and eventually we all come to know that clichés aren’t clichés for nothing. It’s a cruel irony that the creative arts, a field arguably built on the back of subjectivity, is so often overblown or maligned with attempts at objective judgment. Creators of art will universally tell you (though sometimes with a bag over their heads and with their voices disguised) that music, book, art and movie critics are all either incredibly brilliant or endlessly stupid, depending upon their judgment and musings about our art. By the way, I am preaching this sermon to myself. A refresher course in perspective is mandatory to becoming a good artist and an average human being.
Whether creating physical art or intellectual property, or even navigating the sometimes-narrow straits of life, we find ourselves at the mercy of perspective. Like a sun-bleached boat on the big blue ocean, we can at once feel completely free, with manifest destiny filling our sails and feel frightfully insignificant, lost in the greater spaces. It truly is about perspective, and I dare think that all of us are in that same boat. As difficult as it is to capture and maintain our own healthy perspective on art and life, it is a far more frustrating a task to try to manage someone else’s perspective on our personal path. As far as your own perspective goes, don’t be afraid to challenge it and don’t be afraid to have the greater courage to follow it. As far as other people’s perspectives go, gracefully allow them to be both brilliant and stupid. It’s really all you can do anyway.
It’s the end of the year and a time to look back and to look forward, hopefully with perspective well intact. I am thinking of music tonight, the business side as well as the higher callings. I am thinking about travelling and singing with Runaway Home, with all the miles, stages, and perspectives that it has given me. I am thinking about next year and how I want to live my life more fully through those songs, this new book venture, and maybe even things that the band can’t imagine yet. Christmas time seems to bring with it the best opportunity to regain perspective lost. When we were young, very young, our lives may not have been completely fulfilling, but our perspective often was. Everything was bigger and brighter. The opportunity of something magical surrounded us like the flickering lights on a Douglas fir. The smell of the pine brought the wilderness indoors. And when we were laying under that tree, looking up through ornaments spread out like planets in a galaxy, our sense of wonder seemed infinite. So dear friends, especially those of you on a creative path, all of us in Runaway Home wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. But more importantly, at the closing of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, we wish you a healthy perspective on your life and especially on your art. May it all look as grand as it did back when Christmas Trees were tall.
Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“It’s the Music That Makes Us Smile”