They say that the eventual fate of all humans – before returning to stardust – is to become our parents. As I’ve grown older, I have become more and more aware of this transformation. I am the perfectly balanced hybrid of my parents’ genetics. From my father, I received my nose, lips and large eyes, but what you can’t see, is that I also inherited his struggle for perfection and existential despair.
From my mother, her cheekbones and face shape and luckily – a method of coping with the gift from my father. My mother was a creator and had a romantic affair with the pursuit of knowledge. Her life was cut short when she was thirty-eight years old, but in the context of the fullness of life – she lived more than most people in retirement homes.
To apply this to my own experience, I have always had a love/hate relationship with existence. Most of the time, I find myself in humbling awe of the beauty of life. I am grateful for the vibrant emotional spectrum (good and bad) and seemingly limitless possibilities. At other times, I am solemnly too aware of my own insignificance, the fact that this beautiful simulation will one day come to an end, the repetitive struggle for material wealth will amount to nothing, and that the world and universe will keep existing without me in it – rather than the other way around.
But when the weight of that reality becomes too much to bear, art is my refuge. It is a channel through which the negative energy can drain out to keep me from drowning in it. When everything else falls apart, our art remains, providing a place of comfort to which our tired souls can always retreat.
As metaphysical beings inhabiting physical vessels, art is the essence of our existence. To fully embrace our humanity is to produce something that lasts: a heart etched in a tree, a doodle scribbled on a piece of notepaper, a combination of chords that resonates through the decades. In these works, we find a way to transcend our own mortality. It is an answer to the question of what to do with our unique consciousness; the knowledge of our own demise, the depth of our irrelevance, which is to do the only thing we can – create.
We don’t live for money, power, or glory, we live to manifest something greater than ourselves. To get married and have children fulfills our intrinsic biological needs, but to fully enact our purpose is to document the human experience. It is a way of leaving our scar on the fabric of time. Every creative work is a rebellion against our insignificance which screams, “I am human and I was here”.
Unlike other stepping stones in life, art is a testament to the human character. It shows, in honest vibrancy, that we are capable of connecting, making sense of the world around us and using our finite time to its full capacity.
Art conveys with full clarity the emotions that words can’t capture and shows the unedited copies of ourselves to one another. It ignites empathy, offers alternate perspectives and – as a result – makes us into better, more loving humans. Art is a mirror to reality, whenever I was feeling lost art was a tool through which I could make sense of the world around me and the human experience which seemed so senseless and futile.
Writing, painting, music and dance shed light on injustices that are otherwise inconceivable, exposing the true nature of the things we would otherwise like to repress – but shouldn’t repress – which allow us to revisit these issues with a new lucidity, a way of conceiving the inconceivable and hopefully, envisioning a solution to them.
The artist knows that art breathes life into our existence. They know that time is the most valuable commodity we possess, and that every moment should be lived to its fullest potential. The artist doesn’t have time to waste on materialism or frivolities because there is a more profound calling fighting for our attention. They know that our art completes us in a way that nothing else can
We leave records of our existence, fragments of our consciousness everywhere we go because we know that in a moment we’ll be gone. Blink and you’ll miss it.