I didn’t die today- in fact, most days I’m not in any immediate danger. By Jen Nugent

For me, there is so much weight associated with the term artist because it means that I must come to terms with what it is my work has to offer. It means I must believe, in my bones or whatever else I have, that I can actually give the universe something it has been missing. At some younger age I have had my mother and my father give me a proud look, the look that said, “Yes, you are my child and I’m happy to have you as such and whatever you are doing is right.” And so far, I have lived up to this approval. I have given the people nearest me what they wanted. A friend has given me the gesture that meant they were happy to be associated me; something like a hug, a nod or a high five. My lover has turned to me just before sleep hits us both and said, “I’m happy to be next to you.” These gestures have served as gold stars to help me along my way; gold stars that let me know I am still on some track. Gold stars for the Snowflake Generation. The Snowflakes that expect so much but will give so little in return. As a product of this, I feel I need my gold stars to maintain my purpose. How else would I know that I am doing anything at all? Gold stars from a friend or from a lover let me know that I am serving those that mean the most to me. But they are not those that mean everything to me. That would signify that my personal reality is somehow detached from the greater universe that everything must somehow come to terms with. This is what I wonder about being an artist. Can you be an artist and just serve your personal universe? As a creator, once your work leaves your body it belongs to the rest of the universe. It belongs to the people, to the environment, to time, space and the minds of everything. How is it possible to, every day, muster the confidence it takes to deal with this? What is it that makes me believe that the work I do can serve anyone but myself? And what exactly is my relationship with the broader universe that my work is made to interact with?