“For each ecstatic instant, we must an anguish pay…”

by DRM

For each ecstatic instant

For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years,
Bitter contested farthings
And coffers heaped with tears.

Emily Dickinson

Sit someday and watch the lightning crack over a deep swamp. The flat water, seeping along the silty bottom, wipers to tin, turgidity turning to viscosity; the dogged swamp tufts and shallow-rooted trees become spectral in the sudden flashes of light.

That is our brain: the swamp waters are the spinal fluids that pulse through our ventricles, the lightning the electric shocks that course through the neurons and synapses, the organic swamp matter our cortexes, fed and warmed by the close, fetid liquids.

When you create, you set off a grand storm in your brain. You light the swamp up with electricity, churn up the waters, push winds against the loosely-set roots, yank at the entangled grasses and dirts and bushes.

The swamp is afire.

Science can see it. Brain scans show that electrical disturbances intensify along the ventricles in patients with psychiatric disorders and in artists.

Artists can tell of it, in abstract and awed tones, the transformation that comes when they are captured in their work. It is the nourishment and the starvation of the creative soul.