Why do we Create

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To a person who doesn’t enjoy looking at art, it’s difficult to explain its appeal. Art is another style of communication. We speak, we write, we convey ourselves with our bodies, and we create. Those who don’t express their ideas or emotions through art, struggle to understand why artists throw paint at canvas or draw abstract figures.

Imagine if you couldn’t speak. Think about how unusual it would be to see two people talking. Both figures produce sounds with their mouths. They speak and understand one another.

When artists create, they mold from a less tangible medium. Speech is fantastic for conveying information but occasionally what needs to be said can’t be expressed in words. A bright smudge of orange on a white canvas may carry a certain emotion for you. Internally you say “this is what I feel”.

While speech conveys information with relative ease, art is usually open to interpretation. People may walk up to that smudge of orange and have no understanding of its meaning. However, its purpose isn’t necessarily universal understanding. Often times, people create art because there isn’t a better way to communicate a particular emotion.

Imagine that both of parents died tragically this morning. You are filled with incredible emotion. Words cannot begin to explain the loss you feel. Talking to others doesn’t seem to help. What you say doesn’t match with how you feel inside. Maybe wiping orange paint is the only way to express the emotion.

Over time, I’ve realized that those who appreciate art are often very empathetic. They can look at a piece and feel the emotion without having to exchange words about it. The art community is built on that receptivity.

I’ve also found that those who appreciate art are able to take on multiple perspectives. Perhaps they don’t understand your orange mess but they are willing to try and feel it. They attempt to decipher what it means to the artist and why they created it.

It’s difficult to explain the appeal of art to someone who doesn’t innately appreciate it. Often, a natural affinity for art pairs with empathy and receptivity. Those who like art value it as a separate form of communication. While it isn’t as concrete as speech or writing, it expresses human emotion in a different way. Art, to me, has always been about sharing what words cannot.

In the comments below, tell me what art means to you. Do you create because you like beautiful things or do you try and convey certain emotions? Also, if you don’t mind, tell me what art medium you use and share a link to your work!

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“Dude, just enjoy”

As a writer, I’m often guilty of pouring out words and labeling my life. Instead of relaxing, taking in the moment, I’m fantasizing about some far away place. It’s easy to write about these fantasies and dreams because our minds can create such beautiful possibilities. What is truly difficult, however, is living in the moment, whether good or bad, and taking it all in.

On Facebook, a person commented on a photo of mine with “enjoy”. What they probably meant was “I enjoy this” but they didn’t finish the thought. Instead of letting it go, I responded with a question mark. The comment seemed unusual and I wanted to know what they meant.

Almost immediately another friend responded with, “Dude, just enjoy”. It’s taken about a year to realize the true meaning of this.

While I was walking down the beach earlier today, I thought about it and was lead back to the word “enjoy”. It’s a simple two syllable word that we throw around and occasionally hear when we order food or go to the movies. We think of it like, “here’s your ice cream, enjoy!”. Essentially it has lost its meaning because of how often we use it.

What does “enjoy” really mean? It’s when you appreciate the world around you and the situation that you’re in. It means that you’re living in the moment and loving what is happening to you. More than anything, it’s the acceptance of life in its rawest form: you’re letting the world in. You’re truly feeling the taste of the ice cream or the sand on your feet.

Later that day I went out with some friends who got really drunk. The police were involved and it’s a long story that I’ll write about tomorrow. When we were sitting down with the cops, after about an hour, I remembered “enjoy”. Our situation was horrible and we would be up staying late that night, but I accepted it as part of my life. I took “enjoy” and just appreciated the moment for what it was.

In retrospect, it’s the small moments in each day that form our lives. Sleeping late on Sunday may seem meaningless but after a month, maybe you’ll appreciate stretching in bed and laying around. After a year, you may look back and remember those days when you could lounge around the house. Those are the moments that create a life. We look back and see the bliss.

What value is as of that if you didn’t actively “enjoy” those moments? Think back to the last time you thought to yourself “Wow, I’m having a good time” or “I really enjoy this”. Chances are you’ll remember a few moments but they will be few and far between. We don’t appreciate life at its core, only in the ‘grand’ moments. But life isn’t built on these moments, we don’t have them often enough to call them common.

Life is built on making oatmeal everyday for breakfast, or the long commute to work. It’s built on working in the heat and coming home covered in grease. These are the moments that populate our lives and keep our days filled until we go to bed. They are the first breaths after waking and feeling of exhaustion after a long day’s work.

“Enjoy” is a reminder that we need to take a breath and enjoy the moment. If we don’t take in the world and relax, life will pass us by. We were too busy thinking about our next action, or what could be, that we lose sight what is happening around us. When you’re on the side of the road with a group of cops and a group of drunk friends – “enjoy”. When you’re craving pizza and you finally get a slice – “enjoy”. Don’t question it, if you do, you’ve missed the moment. It all boils down to; “Dude, just enjoy”.

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Find a Penny, Pick It Up!

Luck is for people who believe in serendipity and superstitions, or so I thought three months ago. There’s no way that a piece of “copper” can bring fortune! It wasn’t until I dodged an accident in my car without brakes that these thoughts started to change.

Every few days I pass by pennies laying on the ground, discarded as worthless by walkers in my neighborhood. Perhaps in shame, Abraham Lincoln’s profile often faces up looking indifferent to this neglect. Each time I see this brown glint in the sun, I awkwardly rerouted my path to grab the 1¢ piece.

In late May I left out of my room for work and found a penny on the walkway. In that afternoon I offered to drive a friend home after we finished our shift. My old car, which had no previous maintenance issues, decided to take one last heaving breath and die during rush hour.

My friend and I were just before the freeway entrance and on a bad road. I was slowing down at a red light when my Buick stalled. Immediately upon stopping, I shifted to park to restart the car. As if bemoaning its own fate, it grumbled and turned but it wasn’t having it.

While I was coming to a stop, my brakes froze and wouldn’t depress. There were cars in front and behind of me impatiently trying to get home despite my car’s inability to slow. Luckily, I was in the outermost lane, with enough time to come to a stop and pull into the grass.

With admirable effort from my friend, we managed to get a tow truck within an hour or two. The chaos of breaking down didn’t wear on us as we reacted to it. The weather was hot and humid but we managed to make the most out of the situation.

A few days later I thought about the penny I picked up that morning. Physically, that half-inch of metal didn’t prevent a crash. It sat in the pocket of my work uniform and joined in on the ride. What it represented was so much more than 1 cent.

Every time I found a penny after that, I paid special attention to my day. I realized that my life was filled with blessings I had never paid attention to. The mechanic called me later that week to tell me my baby Buick was done for. I found a penny that weekend and a funny thing happened.

While my car was sitting at the auto-shop, a drunk driver crashed into it and smashed a door in. Interestingly enough, he never directly impacted my car. The drunk driver hit another car (a whole parking space away) with enough force that it slammed into mine. This meant insurance would cover my car and I would have more money to buy something new. I’m also glad to report that the driver had no injuries!

At this point I became a little superstitious. These tiny coins invaded my pockets and suddenly everything started to look up. I discovered that these pennies represented a mindset. They gave me hope for a wonderful day and gratefulness for what I already had. Small positive acts suddenly became apparent and I loved it.

Some days can be rough, life is certainly full of surprises, but I’ve found that there’s certain triggers that remind me to stay optimistic. While everyone has their own way of being grateful, pennies have invaded my life and reminded me to be appreciative of what I have.

After discovering their meaning, I’ve started placing the pennies back out on the sidewalks. Maybe you’re going through a rough day and these pennies will give you hope that your day will change. They could remind you, like they have for me, to be grateful for what you already have. Or, at the very least, they put a few extra cents in your bank account! Whatever the case may be, don’t walk by that penny: when you find a penny, pick it up.

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