“Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.”
— Theodore Dreiser
Until I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, I used to put lots of honey in my tea each morning. I’ve always loved honey. It amazes me how hard the bees have to work to make it. Sometimes when I was young, Mama would buy honey with the comb still in it as a special treat for me, and I would chew it as if it was chewing gum.
I think Dreiser makes a good analogy between art and honey. It seems to me that most if not all great art comes out of adversity and sorrow. And it’s painstakingly created, even when the skill of the artist makes it seem otherwise.
Think of the lovely plein air paintings of the impressionists; they must have been difficult to create in an outdoor setting, despite the wonderful light and inspiration. I bet that all sorts of pollen, debris and other airborne particles would get stuck in the paint. And imagine the frustration of getting your easel and equipment set up, only to have a storm blow in just as you are getting started!
We spread honey on our toast in the morning without giving it much thought, just as we stroll past great works in a gallery and seldom reflect that we are seeing the cumulative result of countless hours of execution, to say nothing of the lifelong practice and mistakes that came before, building the mastery that left this legacy for us to enjoy.
In the same way, we may overlook the art all around us in our everyday life, offerings of love from people who manage to create beauty out of misery and travail. I hope today you’ll be able to taste the sweetness of honey from human souls, stored to help us through the tough times.
One year ago today: