Watching the news this morning, I learned that apes in captivity have an increasingly alarming problem with cardiovascular disease. Just like humans. Could it be inactivity, or the food they eat? Maybe, but it struck me that the word that summed up the root cause for their heart problems was “captivity”.
It’s true that primates in captivity live longer and generally healthier lives than those in the wild, especially considering the reduction in the quality and scope of their natural habitats, due to human occupation and activity. However, is it a life worth enduring if it lacks freedom?
We are all, to some degree or another, held in captivity. We have our personal circumstances that bind us. We have obligations. There’s the job, the office and the commute. We’re often stuck in traffic. There is a mortgage to pay. I wonder to what extent this invisible captivity contributes to cardiovascular malaise?
It seems to me that freeing yourself from your captivity, but without having to resort to a feral existence, might be the ideal. Fortunately, imagination and art can do that. In your artistic works, you experience a genuine freedom to do and be almost anything you want. You can be transported briefly from the chains that bind you to a world of your own making, in which your expression is valid and wanted. If you are lucky enough to make a successful living from your art, you are also freed from the daily toll of traffic jams, commuting, clocking in, cubicles, office politics and so on. You might even be financially independent.
I wonder if anybody has studied successful artists, as a group, comparing them to office workers, from the point of view of cardiovascular well-being.