Friday, May 1, 2009

My Relationship With Art

I always wished I could play an instrument, or dance, or draw, but I was never blessed with artistic skills. 

My songs on the recorder were scratchy and painful to hear. My dancing, which lacked rhythm, made people laugh. And my crude stick figures never impressed anyone. 

But although I was bad at it, I always liked art. 

I always enjoyed seeing my more skillful peers excel in art. I appreciated those who could effortlessly draw impressive pieces of art, those who could play difficult songs on the saxophone and clarinet, and those who could dance with impeccable smoothness.

And growing up, I accepted the fact that they were naturally better than I was at all of those things. I accepted the fact that I wasn't an artist. And for a person who loves art and appreciates it, that hurts, that stings. I am a failure at something I love. Ouch!

But wait am I really? Am I really not an artist? Well, based on what I said thus far, yes. But is art only about playing an instrument, singing a melody, dancing a song, and drawing a picture? No, art is also about writing, about putting words together to paint a picture of the world, of our experiences, of our lives.

Writing has not always come natural to me. Indeed, for a long time, I considered myself to be a failure at it, just like I did for the rest of the artistic disciplines. But for some reason, it never made me feel down; it never made me want to stop writing. In fact, it did the opposite.

I guess I never gave myself a shot to be good at drawing, at playing an instrument, or at dancing, because I never tried. I never attempted to improve. I just told myself, "You're not good at it, so just don't do it." My fear of failure prevented me from putting forward an honest effort in improving in these disciplines.

But with writing, on the other hand, I had a passionate, determinant attitude. I was not going to stop reading and writing until I learned to write superbly. Once I got rid of the notion that we are trained to have in grade school—that writing should be mechanical, systematic, and strictly follow certain rules—I noticed that both my skills and love for writing change. I realized that writing was an art. And that I wasn't too bad at it.

When I write, I can produce beautiful art, even as great as Van Gogh's paintings, Beethoven’s sonatas, and Shakespeare's sonnets. Well, perhaps I am pushing it. But you get the point!