He or she stands aside from society, in order to observe, in order to understand what the “game” is that is going on. A writer, an artist moves from the position of “in the game” and then “out of the game.”
There is a certain solitude that is both a gift and a curse. It is like watching people eating poi in a joy filled ceremony and thinking, “That looks delicious.” However, after tasting the culturally infused dish, the artist is reinforced in the separateness. Poi is tasteless, joyless, unsatisfying.
So making the decision to be at peace with not being at peace is vital. Disabusing oneself that the idea of being “in ” the circle, or “out” of the circle of inclusion is the answer is an important step.
Byron Katie in her systematic analysis of thoughts calls it “The Work”. The important moment is when a person stands facing another and in that moment knows clearly what it is the individual wants from that other person.
I frequently ask: What are my expectations for being in my society; what are my expectations for being a cultural anthropologist who simply observes the behavioural choices?
So the being able to see the down to earth, the actual, the spinning out of actions based on the story of a culture is central to an artist’s life. There is a deep feeling of loneliness that all artist-observers experiences. But it is a necessary vantage point in order to create out of a disengaged truth.
It is frequently the artist/seers who were most out of tune with their own culture who propelled the society forward. Matisse was vilified. His vision became the norm.
Artists/writers/seers move in and out of society. Their lives cycle from boredom, to risk and excitement. They come to trust the inner compass more fully as they mature.
One has to trust that the path is created by the step forward. And there are always those well lit places with flat land where the group gathers and shares their maps. There are those inspiration stops where the exchanging of ideas are vitally energizing.
Finally, the question of “Do I fit in?” becomes irrelevant. And the question, “Who am I now?” becomes the call to clarity. The relationship with self calls for the practice of compassion in movement, or in stillness. All is correct. Just observe and witness.