It may seem perplexing as to why I’m coupling sacrifice and creation, but I assure you there is documented history of the two walking arm and arm. One of the keynotes at the annual conference of the Global Alliance for Arts and Health was Dr. C. Richard Stasney. Dr. Stasney is part of a team of doctors that take care of the Houston Opera, Symphony, and Ballet.
Looking back in history there are prominent artists who experienced personal sacrifice for the sake of their art; Beethoven is one of those artists. Because of a medical problem that resulted in the accumulation of fluid in his abdomen, Beethoven had abdominocentesis (draining of the fluid in the abdomen) twice a week. We know from DNA testing that he didn’t use any opiates to deal with the pain of this frequent procedure. The absence of opiates/painkillers meant that Beethoven could continue creating without being in a state of altered consciousness.
What are the limits of sacrifice for art? How do these sacrifices impact our motivation to create art? What healing properties does art have that was the result of personal sacrifice in the mind-body-spirit arena. Although Beethoven didn’t use opiates keeping him present to create, we as artists know that being “in the zone” creates an altered state of consciousness. This altered state gives us uninterrupted time to in our creative spaces to dive into our process of making art.
Beethoven may have been an exception to the rule based on the level of sacrifice he exhibited to compose, but the idea of sacrifice is not uncommon to artists. What have you sacrificed or willing to sacrifice to continue making art? Is the sacrifice part of your art and healing process? How does sacrifice influence our creative process and in turn does it heighten or diminish the impact on our physical, emotional, or spiritual health?
For more information on living with chronic or life-threatening illness visit www.survivingstrong.com