One thing I have always valued as an artist is the truth. The truth cannot be compromised with, and in an age of mass advertising, political ambiguity, and social media it’s an idea that conquers all. The truth is saying,”I’m not ashamed to admit the way things really are.” To stick to the truth is to be fearless of the consequences.
Art at it’s core is funny in that it’s basically an artist crafting a lie to tell a powerful truth in the viewer’s eyes. Imagine I create a painting of a pipe for example; the picture is the lie (it’s actually paint on canvas) with the mood, color, feeling, or scene being the truth conveyed. I guess you could accuse me at that point of being a hypocrite. “You’re not convinced in telling truths, your painting of a pipe is just that, a painting of a pipe!”
Yes, but didn’t you as the viewer want to believe the lie? Didn’t you create the article of a pipe in your mind after seeing my craftly placed strokes on the page? This reveals the true nature of ourselves; our lives are oftentimes filled with convenient lies to simplify a complex world or derive a larger meaningfulness from it. (I didn’t come up with this pipe art analogy… check out the mind-bending works of good ole’ Rene Magritte. )
Illusions and paintings aside the truth is refreshing. It can set you free when you find yourself tangled up in all the half truths and white lies that can clutter up our lives very quickly. Consider my brief look at myself here:
I’m not afraid to say that I don’t make enough money in my life to do everything I want. I’m not ashamed to say that my life doesn’t match the ideal life I have envisioned for myself. Every moment I have in this world isn’t as beautiful and incredible as my Facebook profile shows or my Instagram feed displays. I’m not above showing myself to the world here through my past blog writings as an imperfect person with personal bias and confusion as to my goals on life.
It’s clear to me that the various Social Medias serve as a powerful “paintings” to represent whatever truth you want to convey to others. Some people just take a little more artistic liberty in what they decide to show to the world. The above paragraph sounds depressing, but wouldn’t you say it’s closer to reality then half the other personal posts you might find on Facebook, Twitter, ect.?
The purpose of listing my doubts here is not to garner sympathy, but simply to reveal the truth in hopes that others will see the truth in their own lives and not be afraid to express them. The moments I do have with my wife and family are great and beautiful I remember and cherish. I don’t regret any choices I have made leading up to this point in my life. It’s the good times that make life valuable and important while the bad times are remembered to teach us lessons.
You can’t cling to the notion that every moment will be easy, fun, or beautiful. Nobodies life is a constant stream of success or failure, we experience both and all the mixed emotions in between. I think we all go through a phase of self-destructive or indulgent behavior in our lives where we think everything is great or everything sucks, and it is natural to see the world in these narrow views from time to time based on our circumstances. How do you know the limitations of yourself without being tested?
It brings to mind the notion of Cognitive Dissonance, a psychological term coined by Leon Festinger. Summed up best on Wikipedia:
In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.
Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and are motivated to attempt to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoiding situations and information which are likely to increase it.
With this devotion to truthfulness one of the most difficult but necessary things I have had to learn is self discipline. It’s important to know when you need to change your own destructive habits for your own betterment. It’s hard to make this realization- it takes time and an incredible amount of forethought to look ahead to things you have to build for in your life.
I’m a pretty big believer in trial-and-error learning. I learn best by screwing things up. To me it’s the most honest approach to looking at who you are and what you’re actually capable of.