A Case for Beauty as Medicine

“So, I have always seen it as a kind of parental duty to show my own children beautiful stuff, and in doing so reveal to them an alternate world. By beautiful, I mean interesting, inspiring, ambiguous, challenging and sometimes dangerous things that exist within the world of art. I feel that the online world provides us ready access to a vast and ever-deepening barrage of bad shit, where the cruel reality of the world is well covered. This continual onslaught of negativity can erode our souls and the souls of our children. My job is to show my children that there is a whole universe that exists beyond the grim issues of the day. This is not to divert them from certain truths, but rather to remind them that the parallel world of art and the imagination can literally save their lives, as it certainly saved mine.” – Nick Cave


I want to start at the end where he says that the worlds of art and imagination can literally save lives… as it has certainly saved his.

It has also certainly saved mine.

Art is at the forefront of my mental health journey, and has been for a really long time.

It reminds me that I am the author of my story, the creator of my life, the doer of my dreams.

It has allowed to me release emotions otherwise kept inside like poison, and it’s provided me the privilege to express the rawest parts of myself when I could find no other outlet.

Art has been my best friend, my lover, my enemy and my savior. It’s been both a means to an end and an end to the means. It has been frustrating, and fulfilling, and illusive all at once.

And I love that it’s important for the speaker of these beautiful words to instill that value in his children.

I don’t have children, but I’d love to instill that value in the world.

And oh my god, he points out how a world of imagination – a world found in the arts – a world full of light and wonder and curiosity and creation, can ultimately heal the wounds inevitably inflicted by the world around us.

YES.

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit of a political nut. I try not to bring too much of that into my writing, but I’m going to touch on it now.

This political cycle, this administration… has felt like a dystopian nightmare for me. As I’m sure it has for many people.

I look around and I see regression, and I see fear running rampant and I see hope going out the window and I start to panic. What can I do? How can I help? What Truth can I speak when the word truth itself means less and less with each passing day?

In a shit storm of social media, fake news, and comment feuds, I’m starting to fear for humanity. I’ve had to ban myself from getting into arguments about basic human rights online. Before you know it, it can get to a really unhealthy, unhelpful place.

Instead, I make art.

I make art not only to cope, but sometimes to make a statement about the issues that shake me – the war on women, the climate crisis, toxic masculinity, oppression – in a much more positive and creative way.

Like this piece:

abstract_the ice is getting thinner

Titled, “The Ice is Getting Thinner” – About the climate crisis.

And this piece:

surrounded_by noumoff

Title, “Surrounded” – That touches on issues of depression, anxiety and feelings of isolation in a world so connected by the Internet and social media.

Mr. Cave also speaks to the “vast and ever deepening barrage of bat shit” we’re exposed to online every day, and how damaging that can be.

It all makes sense.

And he argues that art – the arts – is a cure for the cruelty of it all.

I dare say my friends, I agree.

It makes me sad, and sometimes frustrated, when people say that they “can’t” do art. Or they “can’t” dance, or “can’t” play music. Stop.

If you want to, you can. Of course it takes time and hard work, but you can.

And who said it had to be good any way? I’m learning too that we all need to let go of this perfectionism B.S.

In just under a year Greg has gone from fumbling through the Star Spangled Banner on guitar to jamming through some Lamb of God. I’m not kidding. He practiced a little bit after work every day, and I was so annoyed in the beginning, I’m not gonna lie. But I was cheering him on with my ear plugs!

You just have to want to do the thing and you can do the thing.

Last year I wanted to learn how to code, so I took a couple of classes and snagged a Web Dev course on Udemy and I’m working on it! Little by little. Because I want to.

And, I’d wager if you gave it, whatever IT is, the time it deserves – that you deserve to have with it – that it’ll be just the medicine you’ve needed all along.

It has been for me.

Here’s to healing,
Leah

 

 

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