This is my entry for the Natural Medicine challenge: “Art is Healing”. To participate check the details here.
All people are artists. Absolutely everybody has the power to create, to express emotion, to provoke reactions, to charm and to question the established. The only reason we hear some people say they aren’t creative or that they are no good at art is because they associate artistic talent with technical dexterity.
Art goes beyond technical dexterity. Knowing how to move your fingers with extreme precision and speed through a guitar fret does not create a soul moving song. Knowing how create perspective and shades does not draw a mind expanding painting. These abilities can help to transmit ideas but are far from being essential to art.
The essence of art lies in the expression of the inner world. All else belongs to the realms of skill. To understand this is to grasp that our very life is a never ending piece of art for everything we do is an expression of our inner world.
You might say: “dude, your words sound very pretty and all but I’m seriously not an artist. I work 9 to 5, get home to eat junk food and watch TV until sleep beats me into bed. There’s just nothing artistic about that”.
My answer is that you are not telling me the whole story because on your way to work you crossed gazes with someone and expressed something to that person. You might have forgotten about that, but you were art in that moment. You also were art when you petted that stray dog outside your house and screamed in joy because your soccer team won the match. You felt and expressed feelings, and it doesn’t get any more artistic than that.
Ok, so maybe you didn’t gaze into anyone’s eyes and didn’t pet the dog. Perhaps you chose to hide from your surroundings and avoid interaction. Do you know how many songs, poems, photographies, movies and paintings have been made on that very need to hide from the world? More than you can count. Just ask The Ramones:
Well, I just want to walk right out of this world,
'Cause everybody has a poison heart
I just want to walk right out of this world,
'Cause everybody has a poison heart. (From the song Poison Heart)
But let’s not go back to the idea that songs, poems and paintings are art. They are just the technical expression of an artistic moment, and every moment is qualified to be considered such.
So the question becomes: “what’s the point of art if just being ourselves is art itself”. That’s where it gets interesting because now you are aware that your existence has meaning and expression. You are art in the making whether you are conscious of it or not, which means you better be conscious of it and actively participate in what kind of art you are becoming.
All of this is quite intangible so I’ll propose a way of how to transfer these ideas into an actual technical expression of art. For me it’s easier to talk about music since I really enjoy playing the guitar. When I begin playing I was completely obsessed with playing fast and complex sounding music. I practiced 4 hours daily and got pretty good at shredding, joined bands and got known locally for my skills.
During that time I lived many emotions and amazing moments but it wasn’t until one day, when fooling around with the chords of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb with some musician friends, that I felt the music take a life of it’s own. It was the first time I felt that what I was playing was honest and came from somewhere far beyond my rational and technical approach to music.
It wasn’t really playing the song that got me there but actually listening to my companions and seeing how obvious it was that we were all feeling the same energy while playing that got me into that incredible ecstasy. What I felt in that moment, I wanted to feel forever.
Reflecting on that experience I can understand now that it was the connection with others that was the true art, the music had only been the catalyst that led to it. And I think that is what art is really about: connection.
Any form of expression, any moment that allows you to connect with others, yourself, guiding entities, the divine, love or whatever is meaningful to you is art. Therefore, and I return to my first statement, we are all artists. Even if you choose to hide, you will connect with some part of yourself as long as you pay attention to the moment.
When we see it like this, we can also understand that art is medicine because that is what healing is all about: recovering lost connections, as well as finding new ones. A wound is nothing but a severed connection, whether it be of the tissue or of the soul. To heal it we must find ways to bring back what has been separated. And even if it can’t be restored to its previous form, there is always a path to transmuting it into something new.
So be aware of the art you are creating, right now in this moment. What connections are you creating? Which are you restoring? Are you creating new wounds? It’s all part of the story you came to tell, a story that is without doubt a unique and irrepetible piece of art.