1) If your art doesn’t stand apart, then it doesn’t stand for anything. Treat your creative output like a brand. If your brand (artistic) values are the same as every other artist’s, then there is nothing distinct about your creative mission. If there is nothing different about what you are doing, if your paintings look like somebody else’s, no matter how brilliantly executed, then you stand for precisely nothing. Your art is a commodity and it will be valued that way.
If I ask you what your art stands for and you respond with glib statements about beauty, or accurately capturing the light you see, or a million other trite, cliché descriptions about art that you can read in any artist’s statement, I say you haven’t answered the question.
We’re all competing for attention, with our art, in one way or another. If we compete on the basis of our tree being more accurately rendered than the other guy’s photorealistic tree, or on the basis of wanting to portray the light in diffuse, foggy, pastel colours, better than the Impressionists did, or if my heavy metal riff is more distorted and angry than everybody else’s, or if I want to make pictures that are bolder and more shocking than the Fauvists, in my abstract expression, I can see a plethora of brilliant paintings or listen to widely acknowledged music that already does that. How substantial and distinct are the differences? To be one of a kind, or one in a million, if that’s as far as you want to go, then start by thinking about the differences and extremes in your art.
2) Maybe the universe really has a purpose. If you think of the universe as an organism wanting, striving, even longing to become an entity that has maximum, organised complexity, diversity, multiplicity and creativity, then you might begin to understand why all life tries to thrive. It might tell you why you have this urge to be better and do better. It might be why we bother. It could explain why we feel contentment and wholeness when we are working toward creating a world of greater beauty, diversity, environmental cleanliness, awareness, awakening, creative expression and tolerance. We might be being drawn toward that purpose like a planet is gravitationally attracted to a sun and suns to galaxies.
It might also tell us why we are repulsed and depressed by war, destruction, greed, oppression, genocide, environmental damage and epigenetic toxins. We might gain insight into our feelings of unease when we are in the presence of unfeeling, rapacious profiteering and gross selfishness. It’s because those negative aspects go against the very grain of the attractor at the end of the universe (this is assuming that what I said really is the purpose of the universe, of course).
If we compare that universal goal to a pointless heat death, ending in chaos, sterility, ultimate destruction and bleak, cold nothingness, which the current cosmological theory foretells, then I know which one I prefer. Having that strong preference leads me to think that perhaps it might be correct, or at least consistent with the creative goal of the universe I outlined above. If the standard, materialist view were correct, it conflicts with why we all try so hard to be better.
The alternative view, that the universe has a goal and that it’s a positive one, is consistent with how life, in the main, tends to behave.
3) Wellness is not about taking care of your body or taking the right pills. Wellness is about having good, positive relationships, having good physical health (eat well, exercise, sleep), being happy, having a job you don’t hate, being able to express yourself creatively, living in a clean, safe, beautiful environment, not being plagued by money worries, expressing yourself as a sexual being in a loving relationship, being in touch with your spirituality, having a purpose and feeling and giving love.
This isn’t idle speculation. There is ample proof, in numerous well-conducted, meticulous, peer-reviewed studies. The pharmaceutical and medical industries tell you that you need a pill, or they run a bank of tests on you and pronounce you normal and well, but the truth of the matter is that health doesn’t come from outside; dispensed in something that somebody else gives you. It comes from living a life worth living. You often can’t cut out what ails you surgically. It’s in your heart, mind and soul.
You don’t have to run twenty five miles a day, take dozens of supplements and do everything your doctor tells you to do in order to get well. You need to work on your relationships, work on keeping your body in reasonable shape, find meaning, do what you love to do, create without fear, be yourself, be open, be vulnerable, be loving and be loved. If you live in a bad environment, working to fix it will heal you. If you are in a dysfunctional relationship, then addressing that, or the myriad hurts, wrongs, injustices, abuses and insults we might have endured throughout our lives and letting them go, could get you better faster than supplements, surgery, therapy or medicine alone ever will.
If you think about this in the context of the universal purpose I proposed in point 2), you once again can see a harmonious relationship with an attractor at the end of time that wants you to thrive. It also brings into sharp relief all the things that prevent you from thriving. The path toward thriving becomes clearer.
4) Art can save your life, heal you and make you well. Given that one of the planks of wellness is the ability to create and express your creativity, without fear of criticism, then it makes sense that art is an important component in wellness. It could also be entirely consonant with the universe’s purpose, if the purpose I proposed is indeed true. You might even feel that harmonious resonance, deep inside. Art definitely provides the means to differentiate yourself, express your differences, become the diversity and multiplicity that the universe wants and helps you find a way to stand for something, so that you become that one of a kind.
Once you become what you are destined to be, guided by your inner voice, which knows you and always has known you intimately, by addressing your wellness as an integrated whole and if you accept that becoming one with the universe means that creative expression is an important, if not vital, path to achieving that sense of calm, inner, tranquillity and peace, then you might find your life changes, for the better, in significant ways.
What’s so wild about those ideas?