Lots of people that I know choose a word at the beginning of each new year. A word that guides them through their year and gives their life and art direction. In December, I became very enamored with a Russian word, and Nabokov’s passionate description of it. It will be my word for 2012.
Toska – noun /ˈtō-skə/ – Russian word roughly translated as sadness, melancholia, lugubriousness.
“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”
What can I say – I’m not all sweetness and light. My lifelong desire to pursue creative endeavors has always been at odds with the thoughts in my head telling me I have to make more “responsible” choices (I blame this on: 1. being the eldest child in my family (too serious!), 2. a terrible case of perfectionism, 3. trying to please too many people. ) I put art on hold for a very long time and I truly regret it. It wasn’t doing me any good to ignore that part of me that kept whispering “you are an artist, it will be your life someday.” You should see the list of jobs and education I pursued just to drown out that whisper… Ugh.
But what would life be without some struggle? I’ve always enjoyed challenges, even emotional ones to some degree. My favorite art tends to capture some of that toska, melancholy and listlessness. I hope that my work this year will speak to people on an emotional level and reflect my restlessness and desire to succeed.