On Art and Privilege

I’ve been thinking a lot about having the space to write and do art. I’m not referring to physical space, but life-space.  I wonder about all the people around me, how many of them must be incredibly talented but don’t have the privilege to pursue their art.

Who gets to be an artist, or a writer? Mostly those people that can afford to take the time and get good at what they want to do. Others, burdened by their economic limitations, and life situations don’t get to dream. Of course, there are cases in which people are so incredibly talented or so fiercely driven that they go on to do amazing things in spite of their day-to-day limitations, but in global proportions those are rare.

What would happen if we all had the space?

I also think of women, and how in many societies they tend to be burdened from young ages with expectations that they help around the house and take care of siblings, leaving them little time to aspire. These girls grow without the mental space that one would dedicate to art. Once we have kids, our minds also get cluttered with lists of things to do and anxiety about the future. Some days I feel like I have to bully my way into editing a photo or writing some words.

The thing is, I feel this life-clutter even though I am, in a way, privileged. I have a very supportive husband that shares household responsibilities with me. I have a good career and flexible work opportunities that allow me to build my own schedule. Yes, I still HAVE to work, but I don’t have to go to a well and fetch water. There are so many degrees of privilege… to know that some people don’t have potable running water is sobering. On this I could write on and on… but time is ticking and I have work emails waiting to be answered. Sigh.

I follow many wonderful mothers on Instagram, artists, writers, crafters and I am in constant awe that despite the busyness of motherhood they are creating, because I have days that slip through my hands like water. I am grateful that these women are there, to keep me inspired.

Once I get back from our travels I want to open up a physical space to craft again. It has been years since I did anything serious. Not having my stuff with me makes me crave a good dying batch or some glass bead-making. Maybe I’ll finally take an art class!  Like they say in Puerto Rico: “soñar no cuesta nada” (dreaming is free).

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