At first we only heard them say, “You can be any thing you want to be,” Dreamers all, we didn’t pay attention to the rest of that line, “if you do as you are told.” It took us a decade or so to realize that they—parents, teachers, bosses, etc.—were only serious about the second part. We, then, bought—mortgaged actually—the rest of our lives in the forms of Career and True Love.

First, concerning a Career. Sadly, that turned out to be nothing but illusions of status and security and their ephemeral material effects. We sold our individuality—that “You can be anything…” line—almost as soon as we won it. We didn’t see, until it was too late, that we were nothing but an amorphous resource (a human resource, but so what?) to be exploited by the society we belonged to, had our backs.

And then there’s True Love. You know what that is, you’ve seen the movie. While I’d like to think we generally didn’t begin such relationships thinking the other is a mere resource to exploit, like the bait and switch hucksters selling Careers did. But those thoughts were there, hidden deep; they are the bones of the relationships. They are all that’s left when they died; they are what we remember about a lover lost.

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.”
(Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss)

Career and True Love are those games, they are games of the zero sum sort; “Except when they don’t / Because, sometimes they won’t.” (Seuss) We tried to keep some of that individuality, we sold to belong. We tried to be both true to our selves and be a part of some thing bigger all within the confines of Career and True Love. We were not always successful.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.”

Art is one of those “lonely games,” but contrary to what the good doctor rhymes, it’s one you can win; unless you’ve confused it with Career and True Love, which we did. You can win precisely because you “play against you.”  When you challenge yourself, you both win.