Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Questions In The Bathtub

As I was laying in the bathtub this afternoon feeling the steam envelope me in a warm hug and the firm pages of a library book in my hands, I was struck with a few thoughts. Firstly, is it appropriate to read a library book in the bathtub? After I started thinking about how many other people had held, touched, and read this same book and the countless people who will do the same thing after I have now dragged it into the tub with me, it all started to feel a bit weird and unsanitary.

Nevertheless I continued to read my library book in that oddly uncomfortable position that one assumes while trying to read in the bath (neck scrunched, body slowly slipping down while you try desperately to adjust yourself without using your hands or getting the book wet) when another thought popped into my head.

This would be a good time to note that I was reading the book Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. The book is a collection of drawings accompanied by stories from Brosh's life. It's pretty much an extension of what you get on her blog just presented in a different format. At this point I was smack dab in the middle of reading her chapters on depression. I had gone from laughing uncontrollably in the first few chapters to hitting this wall of deep understanding with a complete stranger. I felt like what Brosh was describing was exactly what I have gone through and struggled against in the past.

So my second thought was: how can I find a way to express myself through creative means such as this and be successful at it? But then my brain immediately began coming up with every sort of negative reason why I could never fulfill that idea. I thought, you can't do anything too similar because that wouldn't be original and no one would appreciate it. Plus what makes you think you have a better way of saying what would basically be the same things Brosh is saying? If you connect so much with her chapter on depression how could you contribute in any sort of original way? Your life is not interesting enough. You're not a good enough artist. You have no original ideas. You have nothing new to contribute and not enough talent to do it well.

And that's when I grabbed the emergency brake on my thoughts and said HOLD UP, there's something wrong here. When you think about it, everything we do is unoriginal. We all eat, sleep, breathe, and communicate. Some people communicate through talking, some signing, some singing, some by writing, some by dancing, and others by painting, drawing, or sculpting. There's a million and one ways to communicate our thoughts and needs but none of them are original. All art has been made before; just because one person has painted a flower doesn't mean you can't paint a flower.

The best thing about art is it's ability to show us just how differently we view the world from the people around us. I could draw the same flower as the person next to me, but I can guarantee it won't be drawn the same way. What I loved most about taking art classes is walking around the room and realizing how many different ways the same object can be represented.

Believing that you don't deserve to create something to put out there for others to see or that you aren't good enough to be an "artist" is just a way of preventing you from getting better. When I tell myself that I'm not good enough or that I have no original ideas it just takes away from the time I could be spending creating art. So who cares if you're the least original artist out there, at least you're an artist.

You can't let the fear of being unoriginal hold you back. You will never be creative if you don't start by creating.


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