Like all interesting piece of art, our lives are complex, intentional, partly accidental, beautiful, often sad, dramatic, and always profound. It is built out of all of our personal history, our memories, our dreams, our aspirations, our disappointments, our happiest moments and our darkest fears. At every stage of our life, we try to curve it out consciously so that it tells the story we would like to tell others, and the story we want to be remembered. We mostly fail in shaping it the way we want, but most artists would understand that feeling. Amongst all the failures, sometimes we succeed, and that’s what makes it all worthwhile. Of course, some lives turn out to be more interesting than others, but try looking deep into the most mundane life you can imagine, and you will be surprised by its richness and uniqueness. However, there is one clear distinction between life-as-art and the more conventional understanding of art – created art involves abstraction, an attempt at brevity, and being selective.
So here we are, in the middle of creating a colossal piece of art as we live our lives – our personal magnum opus, but, it is also way too long, noisy, and lacks any selective process. A few among us can stare at this infinitely complex object, take bits and pieces out of it, and translate them into what we generally call art. They use words to translate a small fragment of their personal art into stories and poems; with paint they translate it into paintings, with clay, stone and metal into sculptures, with sound and tones into music, into films and theater, and everything else that we call art. For the rest the grand work of art remains personal, uncommunicated, and mostly unappreciated.
Art becomes meaningful only when it is shared with other, and like any artist, we try to share our lives with others. We seek our audience among partners and lovers, in soul mates, and in our closest friends. We tell them our story, and if we are lucky, we find a few people who can get a glimpse of the art that our lives are. Artists are far more fortunate -- they have better skills for translating parts of their life into other forms that can be shared among a larger audience – even among people they do not know personally.
We have our life long quest to find those few people who might be able to understand our masterpiece; we get close, without knowing that it can never happen. The moment we are close, the person also becomes part of our life and therefore part of our personal art. Distortions set in as it becomes self-referential. The give and take and the politics of any relationship prevent us from telling the story without hesitations, without half-truths, without lies. It is ironic that we can be totally honest only when we can hide behind the possibility of fiction.
So, if we want to tell our story, we must all become artists, and try to tell our stories to people we do not know. That is the only way we can ever share the art that we have been creating all of our lives. It is an extremely difficult task, but not even giving it a try is a bigger mistake. I envy all artists, and I don’t like regrets.