Friday, October 21, 2005

Journal: Going out, and art

Last night, my wife and I went out to see The Decemberists play a show, the first show we've been to in maybe a year. Their Melvilleian pop was charming, and they played a great show, but I felt pretty out-of-place. The show was at an old movie theater in which the bathrooms are in the basement, which meant that not only did I have to do the excuse-me-pardon-me-excuse-me-pardon-me thing to get to the aisle four times during the show, I also had to haul my sorry ass up and down the stairs four times. Also, everyone in the theater was standing, so if I wanted to see anything (and there was a lot to see: a six-piece ensemble fronted by a man wearing a pink-and-white-striped suit coat), I had to stand. Or, if I didn't want to stand, I could truck up to the balcony where the view was unobstructed, but each trip to the men's room required twice as many stairs. And this, I suppose, is why I haven't been out to a show in a year.

It's an example of how I sometimes feel MS has cut me off from experiencing art: I used to be a voracious reader, but I find I lack the concentration to stick with anything longer than a New Yorker cartoon. I used to enjoy making (mediocre) music, but I lost a lot of sensation and manual dexterity in my fingers, making it frustrating to sit down at the piano or pick up a guitar. I used to do some printmaking from time to time, but I haven't felt like I had the stamina, time, or inspiration for it. I'm reluctant to go out to see art in museums or galleries because it means extended periods of standing around and walking. Unfortunately, art increasingly seems like a luxury I don't have the time, energy, or motivation for; tending to the necessities comes first.

Here's a bright spot, though: for whatever reason (MS, maturity, contaminated drinking water?), I think art elicits a much stronger emotional response from me than it used to. I've had an iPod for a year or so now, and the experience of listening to good music through a good set of headphones can be amazing; it can, and regularly does, make me cry.

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