"I made a thing that you happened to find in a field, say, and later that day you were hungry and you opened the thing and it was food. And so it fed you. And that’s what I did, and I’m really proud that I make that stuff that’s super useful. But that’s no burden. That’s a profound honour it’s like, I mean, it really: to me it means I made good use of my time above ground, you know. And I didn’t always do that. I was not always a person that you want to meet. So no. It can feel a bit heavy, but not everything that’s heavy is a burden.”
While muddling through some lecture slides and listening to NPR, I was pleasantly surprised to come across this interview with John Darnielle on Bullseye. I have long enjoyed Darnielle’s music, particularly with/as the Mountain Goats, and though I haven’t gotten my hands on Wolf in White Van, this interview reminded me of why I want to (I will now redouble my efforts to do so).
Darnielle’s perception on the role of creators and his views on the way the things they create often take a profound place in people’s lives that struck me as incredibly reflexive. It’s something between an astute awareness and a humility that is so wonderfully devoid of arrogance - ‘you’re not acting unilaterally, people who made it just made a thing’ - and the line ‘I made good use of my time above ground’ was the simplest, yet richest, expression of that to me and stuck with me all day, and I thought this was worth sharing.
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Earlier in the interview he discusses his time working working with emotionally-troubled youth. When he looks back on this time, his comment is as touching, if not more so:
The main thing I only ever think about is I just hope they turned out ok. That’s all I ever really think about, that’s just - my people. […] when I reflect on it, this is the first thing I immediately think, is I, I do a little math and I go, ‘well she’s 20-odd now. I hope everything turned out ok.’
On the back of Mental Health Day on Friday and reading so many observations and thoughts on mental health around that day, this interview touched the right note for me.