Can you imagine growing up, not only before social media inter-connectedness, but before there was even a smidgeon of the idea of Unity? Of Oneness?
In many ways the 1950s was a great time to be a child. We truly had our childhood in those days. It was normal for our mother to remain home, taking care of us. Teachers were respected, there were plenty of jobs and cheap places to live. The turbulence of the 1960s was still a decade away. In the U.S., the Big Bad Wolf was Russia. The Red Menace. There was an arms race, there was a very real fear of nuclear war, a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them.’ It was a very polarized world still. We all had our Roles to play. Men looked like men, women looked like women, and children looked like, well, children.
I’m thinking about this, about the difference between Then and Now, because I was thinking about how and why I’m so keen on Art.
On the things art can do and how it changes us whether we make it and participate in it ourselves or just watch others create and explore the possibilities. How it takes us into another world. A world of imagination. A world where things feel different and look different and are different. And maybe because a truth is being expressed that cannot be seen any other way except through art. Through the imagination expressing itself, interpreting an as yet very circumscribed reality.
Just think, very few movies in comparison to today, and a tiny handful of TV channels, and most televisions only black and white pictures. If you had a hunger for looking, you went to art books, photography books, or art museums. And there you would see pictures that were called Art, and you would know there was this different world that artists knew about and could deal with and express. It might look different than this one or it might look the same in many ways, but it was an alternate reality. A world of expression where people and objects took on a different meaning.
For me as child, I saw pictures of a more true world. A world where a house or a building might not be true to ‘reality,’ yet it felt like a house or a building, and where a person’s expression or stance magnified what they were feeling, so that feelings were easily understandable and made sense.
How often does the adult world make sense to a child? Even today? The world of childhood seems to be shrinking as more and more the young are given free rein to imitate adults. Okay, so it was the Victorians who invented a sort of idyllic childhood for those who could afford it, but still.
In thinking about myself (which is and will always be my best reference, the personal) I see that while I was confused by the adult world, I was able to find clarity and honesty in pictures that not only didn’t lie, but told the truth. The truth of feelings. The heart knows. However old or young we are, the heart knows.
Expressing your truth may come in a flash or it may takes years of practice to get to where you want to be. But even a page of clunky sentences or a sketchbook filled with drawings you may think awkward at best—are expressions of an inner you. The you that feels and knows things through your body, through your hands, through your direct experience with life. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your work is ‘bad’ or insignificant. It isn’t! Don’t even think of using those words or subjecting yourself to someone that does. Because what is happening is far beyond terms like ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ We’re talking about Truth here. The truth of the inner being that you are, and that no one can ever take away from you.
So make it stronger, keep strengthening that inner you, the place where you find your truth of being. The place where you look and see how you feel about the world. I might not see it that way, but who cares? The important thing is that we don’t take someone else’s word for it. That we see it for ourselves. Have this Direct Knowing experience. Become truly authentic beings to ourselves. Which means that we have to keep discovering and re-discovering the world every day. Can you imagine such bliss? Can you imagine being so alive?