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Art for art's sake

Sometimes, everything in my life seems to point me in a certain direction. Lately, the invisible forces at work have life’s purpose. I’ve discovered that life is about dissolving the ego and finding the love and connection that holds us all together. It’s about embracing feelings of connection to people, to plants, to the whole world around us.

So yeah, checkmate philosophers, I’ve figured out the meaning of life.

In all seriousness, even if it sounds rather New Age and near impossible, I’d like to follow this path for the foreseeable future. I’d like to dissolve the ego and find love and connection. Unfortunately, there’s not a great “for Dummies” book about connecting to the higher power that connects us all. I’ve found some clues though, partly through my religious upbringing and partly through my discovery of spiritual teacher Ram Dass. He has a few great one-liners to guide, but this one feels particularly relevant to me:

Creativity springs from the yearning to be the fullness of who you are.
-Ram Dass

In this case, my fullest form involves becoming aware of my part of the greater whole. To reach that form, I plan to focus on the activities that have made me focus on myself the least. That means creating art, spending time with those I love, and appreciating the beauty in the world. Easy, right?

Not really! Although creating comes naturally to me, I've been having trouble finding the motivation to do it. My other reading has been making me think a lot about my participation in the systems of society that are oppressive and hurt the world (thanks Jenny Odell). I can’t help but wonder if I only like creating because I’m a self-serving capitalistic cog trying to prove my value and individualism. In my mind, creative acts are inherently tied to egoism and validation. Would I have ever learned to love illustration and writing if it weren’t for the positive feedback from those who consumed it? Would I still write if someone told me I was bad at it? Would I still illustrate if no one looked at it?

I don’t know! Fortunately, life recently showed me an example of a different path. A few weeks ago, I went to see a small concert, featuring an artist named Axel Mansoor. Within five minutes, Axel made an entire crowd fall in love with him with his music. Throughout the performance, it was so clear that Axel LOVED every moment he spent creating music. As he played, he seemed to enjoy the crowd’s singing even more than his own, excited to accompany their imperfect notes with his guitar. What I saw that night was the ideal form of artistic creation, as everyone in the crowd seemed to meld into one consciousness, singing along to a song that they didn’t even know (or maybe that was just me). 

Axel was able to create intimate moments, where he connected with the beauty of the crowd. Other art can help to connect with the beauty of the world.  I plan to find ways to connect with the world through my art. It may not be obvious, but I want to reframe the way I create. I don’t want to care about likes or personal brands or anything like that. I want to create to connect. So, when I spend an hour drawing Kirby, I’m thinking about it as a remix. My drawings are a way to respect the skill of Masahiro Sakurai (the guy who created Kirby) and a way to connect with everyone who finds Kirby cute.

Or something like that. We’re still figuring it out.
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Nikhil · 325327 Georgia Tech Station · Atlanta, GA 30332 · USA

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