Friday, April 26, 2013

One Answer to the Questions "Why Do We Do This?" and "Is It Worth It?"

This is a stunning answer to the question I was asking here in my last post (Is it worth it?  Am I ready to give up?).  Here is the story of Vivian Maier, someone who followed her creative drive utterly in private for an entire lifetime and left an incredible legacy that has thankfully been found and shared with the world.  She was an "amateur" who neither sought nor received any public validation for her work, and yet it's clear that she pursued it with the dedication, commitment and vision of a "professional."  Let's put that distinction to bed, shall we?

This is what it means to be an artist.  You see the world a certain way.  You try to capture and express what you see.  You create.  You do so because it is who you are.  And then comes the question of whether, with whom, and how to share what you create.

There are artists who believe their creative work is meant only for them, it is a private endeavor.  Sometimes they're right.  But sometimes, as in the case of Vivian Maier, and many another great posthumously discovered creative artist (and yes, I include writers as artists), they're wrong.  They have failed to see that they are creating something that speaks to other members of the human race so eloquently that it must be shared.

We human beings are engaged in a millenia-old struggle to understand ourselves and our world, to make sense of it.  This struggle builds and grows and bears fruit through conversation, through discourse.  That discourse happens not merely in the present and face to face through talking, but mind to mind and soul to soul across time and space through art, through the written and spoken word, through music, through scientific discovery, through inventions and engineering and architecture.  You could say that the meaning of life is to participate in this conversation, to contribute to the expression and exploration of life and the world and the human journey.

There's a reason we humans have a drive to understand, to create, to give expression to our experience.  That struggle to understand, the effort to explore and capture and express, is worth it because it's why we're here.  It will never be complete, but it is a beautiful, magnificent, holy, eternal work-in--progress.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully stated, Cindy. And Vivian's work showed up in two of the blogs I follow this morning. She did her work unfailingly, saved her negatives, hoping that someday someone would appreciate her work. We know this because otherwise she wouldn't have saved them. And here we are. Creative work is never wasted. Even if the negatives are burned, the pages crumbled into dust, the paintings go unseen. The act of creativity itself is worth it because of the changes that take place inside the person doing the creating, and the ripple effect that has on the world around her.


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