Pausing for relevance

Doodles May 2014 (2)

In light of what is happening around the world these days — wars, disasters, privacy breaches, dying economies, corrupted morals, misplaced values in business and education — I sometimes wonder if my self-indulgent essays are worth anything. To me they are a necessary purging, and I can sleep at night thinking all this is necessary so I can be a better person to others in the long run. But of what value are they to others right now? This is the relevance question all over again, and it’s the same with my art (or this process of learning art). Every time I spend 12 hours making tedious, careful lines for my school plate or slave over getting a smooth baseboard for my canvas, I wonder if it’s making a difference, really.

It may be vain to think that my life is worth a stranger’s time and attention, but modesty aside, it’s also a lie to think otherwise.

Someone once told me that I should just paint and write what is true for me when it is true, because there will be people out there who will be able to relate to it. And for this alone — even if the resonance is just with one person — I should keep doing what I do. There is value in doing things truthfully.

I go back to one of the few insights I retained from college philosophy: Paul Ricouer’s “personal”. He said that by doing what we do — our job — with love and gusto, we already engage the other — the stranger. What is objective, non-specific and non-directed, becomes personal and intimate.

And so we march on.

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