“This I Believe…”
I believe that art is essential to growth. I haven’t always believed this. Actually, I came to it rather late in life through an artist who became a good friend. Until I met Elizabeth I thought art was a luxury – in the same category as a trip to Europe or an expensive car, or a home in Hollywood. I was wrong, and without intending to, my friend, both a musical and visual artist, taught me just how wrong I was. The lessons she taught me totally changed my perspective on life. Before I learned this, the world I saw was in black and white, now it is in living color!
My life was never art-free, mind you, as I grew up in a home where music was highly valued and enjoyed, oftentimes, at considerable sacrifice. I took lessons on the clarinet as a child and played in a band – and I enjoyed it – even if I wasn’t very good at it. I abandoned the clarinet when I went to college because I believed that if I couldn’t do something well I shouldn’t do it at all, and besides I had a degree to earn and a life to fashion and art was only on the furthest margins of that life.
What I learned from Elizabeth, someone for whom art was not a luxury, but the very air she breathed, was that art in its various forms is a powerful pathway to the spiritual, beautiful and joyful experiences of everyday life. She taught me that these experiences not only gave me different perspectives on the most important things of life, they also cultivated, fertilized and tended my growth as human being. This revelation literally changed who I was and who I will become.
Now I invite art into my life at every opportunity – sometimes just as an observer and other times as a participant. I learned that art is essential to my growth whether I observe it or listen to others or actually participate in it on my own. I also learned that it is worth doing even when I don’t do it particularly well because the process itself is rich with possibilities for growth and just plain fun! Nowadays I go to the opera, concerts, art museums, and plays as anticipated journeys into worlds I could know no other way. I’ve even started writing a little more even if no one ever sees it, and even if it isn’t going to win a Pulitzer Prize. I sing in a choir, not because I am a soloist, but because I like to make music. My initial foray into the world of art still yields surprises and gives me new insights into myself and a dancing, spinning incredible universe! Art is essential to growth – that’s what I believe.
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