I

was buying this dress half-off when I stumbled into a discussion with a stranger about the flight of artists and their work from New York.

It was one of those conversations that you start to wake up in the middle of, a sense of happy surprise stealing over you as you realize that you’re talking about something besides elementary school or what iteration of tortilla-based dish you’re going to make for dinner and you didn’t even have to bring a side dish to your book club to do it! (I’m just kidding about the book club thing. I don’t belong to one, so this bit of accidental intellectual action will probably do it for me for the quarter.)

Only through living convinced of the abundance we have, regardless of how much it is, that we can find the space and enjoy the grace to make beautiful things in our lives together.

An artist and performer, the person I spoke with had returned to New Mexico a week ahead of Sandy. He’d lived in Manhattan for more than a decade, but the island’s grinding financial pressures had finally driven him out. There was an article about the flight of artists from New York, he said, had I seen it?

I hadn’t, but I’d certainly felt a shift in the city even on our brief trip back in August.

“What New York cares about is making money,” I said dismissively. I was only making my best run at bubbly cocktail party

conversation, though; I wasn’t really thinking it through.

Because, really, isn’t that what any and all of us care about anymore? This thought of scarcity, of not having enough of whatever is what we are consumed with as a nation. It is this belief that we must guard our meager stores and constantly adjust our position—at work? at home? In our communities?—to improve upon whatever material state we currently enjoy that consumes whatever creative energy we might otherwise have at our disposal. It doesn’t matter if you’re in New York City or in Nome, Alaska, post-modern hunter gatherers don’t have enough time to make art. They’re too busy shoring up their status, 21st-century style.

Only through living convinced of the abundance we have, regardless of how much it is, that we can find the space and enjoy the grace to make beautiful things in our lives together.

And while the connectedness afforded us by ‘mod cons’ (more on that tomorrow) and technology does genuinely depress me sometimes—people with a tablet to consult are entitled to opt out of polite society in even the most mundane of ways—this is only half of the equation. With that blessed connectivity (itself a privilege, my wise Suzy-q would remind me) comes the ability to create from wherever you can find space to be grateful for it and the time to take to make it. Art can legitimately live everywhere now—SoHo be damned.

Now…to make some.