Be a Creator

The Psychologist

About ten years back I was gifted a revelation.

And it came from an Australian lady who was my co-passenger during a journey from Delhi to Dehradun. A child psychologist by profession she was in India for a detox holiday at Haridwar. And very soon we were chatting about the changes in child behavior patterns in Australia. She was very vocal about how intrusive technologies like phones, internet were decreasing the attention span of children and decreasing their ability to learn. According to her children who were introduced to the virtual world of TV and other form of videos in their growing years were more likely to become less interested in real world as it is not as exciting as the virtual world. They would get ‘bored’ easily and be more aggressive in general.
The other problem was of instant gratification of getting what they wanted without really having to work for it or wait for it. And she held the parents of the children responsible for this. Parents who spend little time with their kids would want to make the child ‘happy’ during the little time that they spent with her. Hence they would fulfill all the demand of the child immediately, thus encouraging consumption. And this leads to the child not learning to cope with delays, failure of getting what she wanted, which ultimately leads to the child becoming prone to stress. And thus the chat went on for a very long time on how this affects the society as people become less social and more unaware of their surroundings.

The Revelation

I was gifted a revelation. But I really never took it. I thought to myself, “Well this is probably a thing of Australia and it would not be so in India. So I am okay. We are okay.”And today it does not take much intelligence to say how wrong I have been. The growing usage of TV, Internet, phones, the bombardment of information, the growing working population and changing social structures have changed everything. In fact all these issues are no more limited to children alone. It is a common problem for the entire society.
But when I look around there are certain people who seem to be completely unaffected and equanimous. And in most cases these people are either musicians, artists, writers, actors, classical dancers or ordinary people who practice any of these disciplines in their free time. Now one thing was clear to me that all these people did practice some or the other form of art (Not that there were no one in this category who did not practice any art. But I was trying to find out a common thread, which I finally concluded to be arts). But it was still not clear to me why.
And then I had my revelation through two words.
Consumer and Creator.

Consumption and Creation

Two simple words with two opposing ideas; But can not exist without each other. Both need to balance each other out.
But today’s society has a heavy leaning towards consumerism. Towards a culture of unbridled consumption. All the time in a day people are consuming. Movies, Videos, Status Updates, News, Tweets, advertisements…… and the list is never ending. We are consuming information in some form or the other all the time along with other traditional consumer goods like clothes, gadgets, cars etc. And then we are working jobs like never before so that we can keep consuming more. Consumerism seems to have consumed us.
The act of creation is exactly opposite to the act of consumption. While it takes no time to consume something it takes a really long time and virtues like focus and patience to create it. While consuming is about instant gratification creating is an activity with a slow learning curve and long term rewards. While consumption is about the external world creation is about focusing on the inner self. While consumption is about alienating the soul creating is about becoming one with universe.
Eureka. I had found a very objective solution to counter balance the effects of increasing consumerism in today’s society. Everyone in this modern era must practice art in their everyday lives. It is one of the easiest and joyous path to becoming a creator. It really does not have to be arts. It can be even writing a code or making a gadget or even gardening. It just has to be an act of creation.

There is agreement

My Eureka moment did not really last long. All it took me was a little search on internet to find out that other people were already discussing on the same lines of consumption vs creation. In fact I was pleasantly surprised that many people are already walking this path to better their lives.
Instead of concluding, I’ll leave you with this TED Talk video titled ‘Be an Artist. Right Now’ by celebrated Korean author Young Kim Ha. Watch the video and you conclude for yourself what do you want to be.

Consumer or Creator?

What does the word artist mean… to me

There are a few standard ways in which the word ‘artist’ is used. Some people use it to refer to a profession. So if someone is a doctor by profession and at the same time is an amateur but passionate painter he cant be called an artist! Some people refer to a person with a talent in any of the arts field as an artist. For example anyone who sings or paints or dances automatically is called as an artist. So is being an artist is about being in a particular profession or having a particular talent? My answer is neither. For me being an artist is an attitude that seeks to judge less and understand more, thus expanding the seekers mind.

Depending on the place and time we belong to, we develop our own value system and sense of reasoning, which is necessary for our survival. And like all systems our reasoning system is also based on some assumptions, which help in faster decision making. For example when we are shopping for apples we tend to pick the ones that are very red in color. Here the assumption is that if the redder the apple, the sweeter it is. Though it works some times, the other times the greener apples turn out to be sweeter. As the pace of our lives increases exponentially, speed of decision making also has to cope up with it and hence more assumptions have to be made, which in other words makes us quiet judgemental to meet our ever increasing survival needs.

An artist is someone who tries to break out his set of assumptions. He tries to overcome this natural disposition of using his assumptions and instead seeks to understand. He tries to overcome his own boundaries of logic seeks to be emotional.

Lets take an example. In a class when people are asked to draw something (an eye for illustration) most people immediately draw an almond shape, with a few concentric circles inside the almond shape. A few look up at their neighbour’s eyes and try to draw the shape that they see. The people who have drawn the almond shapes are drawing what they already know, which is nothing but their assumption about the shape of the eye. But the others who looked at their neighbour’s or even the teacher’s eyes are the ones who are trying to understand. It is this attitude of observing keenly to understand makes the artist more aware and emphatic of his surroundings and himself. This is the artist’s gaze that helps one to expand one’s mind and be joyful.

Because artists try to observe and understand they have the ability to see more beauty and meaning than what meets the eye. And the desire to communicate this makes the artist create. It is said that the best way to paint is to paint is with the heart of a child and with the skills of an adult. Skills are external while the attitude is internal. External development can be achieved through hard work, practice and discipline. But the internal purity, which enables one to paint without judgments, with innocence and awareness at the same time and with an imagination that is not bounded by the limit of logic makes a painter an artist.

Unfortunately whatever I said could easily be bounded by the expanse of my own mind. One really has to find one’s own meaning through honest effort.