Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something. – Kurt Vonnegut
I love the Vonnegut quote above. It expresses really well how I feel about the creative arts in my own life. I’ve come to feel that art is the purest expression of Soul, and I’ve found that the older I get the more important the expression of Soul has become in my life. Photography, singing, writing – these things help me stay focused and help me stay sane. Literally help me stay sane. Looking back, I think photography was a big help in pulling me out of the whatever-that-was several years ago. When I’m out taking pictures I’m always looking for the magic – for the beautiful and joy-filled – for the “idea of truth”; and the other things – the things that would distract me from the beautiful and good – are stilled in my thought. When I’m out and about with my camera, the dialogue of mortal mind is silenced for a while, and I’m on a vacation from it.
In photography there’s that moment when the photographer spots something remarkable and captures it – to get that moment the photographer has to have appreciation for the beauty around her- she has to be able to recognize it when she sees it. And then the photographer takes home that moment and downloads it to the computer and does the art thing – crops and contrasts and highlights and saturates and leaches out the color until the artist in her recognizes that something has popped out that’s just perfect. And then she gets to share that moment with other people – gift an audience with that moment, too.
The audience is a huge part of the art – the people who read the books, or listen to the music, or look at the pictures, become, themselves, a part of the expression and experience. When the audience members laugh or gasp at the right time during a play – they are working with the actors, helping them create their expression. When the artist’s audience applauds or writes a review – laughs and cries and feels and learns because of the art – the audience becomes a part of the artistic endeavor, too. 🙂
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Mortals are egotists. They believe themselves to be independent workers, personal authors, and even privileged originators of something which Deity would not or could not create.” I’ve found that when what I’m seeking in my work is applause or personal recognition – when I’m creating something to show-off and impress – rather than to share and express – the work never turns out quite right. It’s lacking something genuine in it. Something real. It’s a stilted, self-conscious, self-indulgent, self-absorbed, SELFED and ridiculous thing. It really stinks.
But when the work comes from the inspiration of Love (God) – from the beauty, joy, and kindness I see around me and just HAVE to share with everybody else – then it’s real. Then it’s WORTH sharing.
Whatever furnishes the semblance of an idea governed by its Principle, furnishes food for thought. Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics, thought passes naturally from effect back to cause. Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal. – Mary Baker Eddy