Have You Been Saved (by art)?

Art has been a toy to me, like an extra-dimensional rubrics cube in the mind. I didn’t know that I was an artist until my 30’s, after years of actually being an artist through writing, photography, and other mediums. Art is a compulsion, an impulse inside the body that manifests itself when we wake up from the auto-pilot of day-to-day life and realize that the world is 10,000 miles away from how we actually feel inside. It’s an attempt to get hold of the wild horse called our life and steer it in a direction that accurately expresses who we are or at least how we feel about who we are.

When I wrote those first screenplays in high school, I thought I’d be Spielberg by senior year. What the heck did I know about life and setting realistic goal? I thought the answer was a grandiose level of success. What I didn’t realize is that I was doing the most fundamental and bravest thing. I was saving my life.

Art saved my life. Not necessarily in the literal sense, but at very least psychologically. And psychological survival is often overlooked. I would have cracked inside as a teenager. I don’t know how this would have looked, but I had a steam pipes inside my mind and it needed release. Nothing else could do that for me those days. I barely knew how to talk to people, and I thought that being noticed and liked was everything. And for something that was everything to me, I barely felt that I was noticed at all, sitting at the lunch table by myself.

This thing called art, this puzzle in the seat of the creative mind distracted me from suffering, self-inflicted suffering, as it always is self-inflicted. Art became a place. Like a child going to her or his grandparents in order to relax from the overbearing nature of parents. Except myself and my value system were the overbearing parents, believing that if everyone loved me, all would be normal.

Art snapped me out of this. It was a long drawn out snap, one where I fought back, but art eventually won. “Who do you think you are?” it said to me. “I’ve been here before you and will be here after.” And then you see the greats. Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Mozart, Kubrick, Mary Shelly, those people that wrote on cave walls in France. Death didn’t care what they did for art’s sake. Death took them as quick as Death takes everyone else. Time doesn’t care either, because everything they did could one day be gone, will be gone when the universe ends.

We must treat ideas as though they are real and can grow if we feed them thoughts, positive or negative thoughts. “Art saved my life.” It’s not the hungriest idea I’ve ever conjured, but it has had the power to humble me. But I’ve come up with a better idea since getting older. “Art had and still has the power to save my life.” There’s a big difference, and I won’t insult your intelligence with an explanation. But I will tell you to find something to be a nerd about and geek out over it. Knit sweaters, catch crawfish, paint a portrait, collect coins, race go-karts, anything as long as it’s positive. Do it well and know it well and do it again. The skills that we gain through practice is the empire that we build within ourselves. Practice often and practice well. It may save your life or at least your sanity.

©2019 Marc Alexander Valle

The Human Project

There is a scene in the film Rocky Balboa where Rocky’s son, Robert, tries to convince Rocky, in his 60’s, to not box a young heavyweight. Robert goes on to say, “You gotta face reality,  okay? It’s a different world now”. Rocky replies, “Only the clothes is different”.

Humans always want to believe that what they are going through is utterly unique in history. “Kids these days, they got no respect,” we repeat. We believe that the next generation will bring down civilization.

But did the Romans have their Greatest Generation?

Boys and girls willing to serve their country, because they believed it served a higher cause.

Did the Mayans have their Baby Boomers?

Children rebelling against the authority of their society, becoming consumeristic later in life.

Did the Mongols have their Millennials?

We’ll probably never know things so historically microcosmic.

But I have my money on history being as cyclical as it’s always been.

One thing I depend on more and more, humans will always be human.

Change

3 years old, Empire Strikes Back re-release. An elderly lady was smoking during the Hoth battle scene. Yes, I’ve found out that people were actually allowed to do this even in the 80’s at certain theaters. The 1980’s! That means that some person could have smoked an entire pack of Pall Mall at the Care Bares Movie with a school trip sitting there.

I’ve lived a lifetime. Meaning that I’m on a different planet from the one that I started on. The language has changed. Standards have changed. Expectations have changed. I have changed. I’m not saying that it’s good or bad. I’m just saying that it’s unreal. In middle school, students said that males can’t wear two earrings. Now they think you’re just broke if you have only one.

Nevermind standing on the shoulders of giants. We stand on front of the wind of history’s momentum. Reacting to the world around us, setting off chains of events.

Are we built for an exponential change of pace? Can the same technology that induces the anxiety, anesthetize us from it? (That burn of heat rub that turns to a cooling sensation.)

I’m just glad that I found meditation last year.

But then again, I would have never found that group if it weren’t for technology.