Something Remembered

I have heard it said, often by entertainers themselves, that the job of the artist, of the entertainer, is to help people forget their troubles. It’s a tough and uncertain world out there, goes this thinking, and it is always good to get away from all the conflict and woe and for an hour or two hand your life over to someone who in a song or a story can take you someplace happier where good triumphs over evil and the guy gets the girl. The entertainer helps us forget. I have never felt the entertainer’s job was to help his audience forget, but to help his audience remember. In this way, entertainers are like teachers. Everyone already knows everything there is to know, but most of us forget, and so teachers are people who have remembered something important and wish to help other people remember it too. This is what entertainers do. They help people remember what happiness feels like.

Because we already know that our job in this life is not to get it right; we already know that our job is not to be a success; we already know that our job is not to marry the right man or get the right publishing contract; we already know our job is not to be a good Republican or Democrat or Christian or Jew or son or daughter or husband or wife. We already know that our only job in this life is to be happy. We know this, but we frequently forget it.

And so the artist helps us remember. The artist shows and doesn’t tell so that the happiness he, the artist, has found can be discovered and remembered in the audience. And when it is, that happiness, which had belonged to the artist, now belongs to the audience, it is theirs, for it always was—and now that they have remembered they might go forward from the library, from the theater, from the concert hall, they might go out with that happiness still in them and it will feel at once new and familiar, something they have remembered, and if they are paying very close attention, they might even think, “This feels exactly like me.”

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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