What Would Patti Smith Do?

What Would Patti Smith Do?

When I was a little girl I saw a black and white photo of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe standing on a balcony in the East Village. They looked as if they had just taken a moment to stop off at earth after a 4-day rock concert on Mars. I immediately thought… Oh, I want THAT.  Whatever they have, I want that.

What did they have aside from immeasurable cool, confidence, dirty feet and attitude?  They had faith.  That is the thing I have craved my entire life.  They had faith in abundance.  Faith that what they were doing mattered.  Faith that they were important.  Faith that being yourself counts for something.  Faith that they were put here to do whatever it is that they do and to walk that path was not just their obligation but their pleasure.  Most of us are probably more familiar with having a crisis of faith.  Who am I? What am I doing here? Why am I even trying? What is the point? Am I just making a huge mistake with my life? Why can’t I just be like everybody else and do what they do the way they do it?

I have those thoughts almost every hour on the hour.  Maybe that is healthy?  Maybe it has less to do with a crisis of faith and more to do with me finding a way to prompt myself to answer those questions.

Who am I?  I am an artist.  Life is my medium. Sometimes I create with my body, sometimes with my mind, most of the time with my heart and soul.  I bleed for my art.

What am I doing here?  I am here to use every resource I have to be a conduit of creativity, inspiration, communication, and energy.  I do not care if that manifests while I am changing a car tire or painting a masterpiece.  It is how I do it. It is not what I do.

Why am I even trying? Because it is my obligation.  It is my purpose. Everything I do is grist for the cosmic mill.  I agreed to be a force of nature before I landed here.  They never said it would be easy.

What is the point? The point is that when I do what I love, I give permission to others to do what they love.   When I walk with confidence, others walk with confidence.  When I pursue my dreams, others feel inspired to pursue their dreams.  An easy path is a lazy teacher.  My wounds and scars are my road map. They are my diary.  They show me there was a point to all of this. I have those wounds and scars, and none of it stopped me.  

Am I just making a huge mistake with my life? If I am asking this question then chances are I am not making a mistake. Chances are that I am right on time in the exact right place doing exactly what I am supposed to do.  

Why can’t I just be like everybody else and do what they do the way they do it? Because I am me and you are you, and the beauty in that is almost unfathomable and overwhelming.  No one on earth is ever going to have the same experience as me.  So I might as well revel in it.  Besides, most of the time my mistakes are greater than other people’s accomplishments.  There is something to be said for that kind of mastery.

And if you ask yourself those questions, and you still don’t have the answers you need, try doing what I always do in moments of crisis and ask yourself:

What would Patti Smith do?

I think she would be a fierce warrior poet of life, art, truth, and beauty. The warrior’s sword is discernment which helps sort out the temporary from the everlasting.  I think she would fall down and get back up.  I think she would wear her mistakes like a loose garment and give away her accomplishments like they were candy.

In case this still does not work for you, check out this story by a woman who also asked herself What Would Patti Smith Do?”

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