I have this friend. He's what you might describe as an artistic person. He is a smart guy who sometimes has a hard time communicating all these brilliant thoughts. He'll respond to a scene or acting moment in such a way that you're not even sure that you were watching the same thing. And not in a "I disagree with how you're interpreting it" kind of way, but in a "you may as well be on the moon" kind of way. But you still listen because you know that somewhere is the perfect answer to unlock the scene. On top of that he has a short attention span, often fidgets in his seat, and is often late.
He approached me out of the blue one day and told me that he had been back on Ritalin for a couple weeks. He described how he felt more focused and on top of things. How he wasn't misplacing objects or forgetting appointments. How his world was more settled and he felt calmer.
I thought back over the past couple of weeks and I too had noticed the change in him.
But he went on to say that he just didn't feel like himself. He wasn't able to be creative in the same ways. He couldn't synthesize his creative thoughts and felt off of his game. He said that he felt completely cut off from his instincts and was afraid that the project he was working on would suffer. He asked me what he should do.
I was torn I didn't know what to say. I told him that I was not a doctor and had no frame of reference to understand what he was going through. But there was a choice to be made and he would have to do what was most important to him. I never found out what he choose to do, but I still think about that moment to this day.
In a society where there is a pill for everything, it is easy to be cynical about things like this. I know people who want to be able to push a button that will make them happy. I know others who would not be able to function without their medicine. The range is so broad that there is no way to qualify it all. But when our society puts so much pressure on us to be normal, it makes being different uncomfortable. And for those friends of ours that are just a little odd, it becomes very easy in the arts community to write them off as artsy. But is that it? I have plenty of friends who are just plain odd, but then there are also those friends that I worry about too.
So what is our duty to our friends? We all have been in a situation similar to this. What is the right thing to do? How far do we get involved? How does their art fit into all of this? Should that even be considered at all? These are some tough questions we have to struggle in the behind-the-scenes moments that affect us all.