I am currently taking a class with Eric Maisel, who believes that art-making is a way of making our lives feel meaningful. In fact, for those of us with Creative Compulsive Disorder, I would argue that we need to make things in order to feel a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. And, human beings have a need to feel a sense of meaning, a connection to that which is bigger than us, in either secular or religious terms.
For class this week, we were asked to reflect on how art-making is a calling in our lives. This is what I wrote:
Art-Making as a Meaning-Making Endeavour
I like the idea of holding my art-making as my calling and I have created the following mission statement to remind me of my decision to hold art-making in high esteem:
I tell stories in written and performed form to help people feel less alone through engagement with the inner worlds of characters who reflect aspects of the experience of human existence they can relate to. This is my calling, my contribution to moving the world to compassion, and I call on the powers of beauty and individual truths to reveal goodness and encourage people to see the good in themselves and others.
Art-making is my primary practice for meaning-making in my life, and I definitely want to be part of the meaning-making world of others. Art, whether improvised, performed in repeatable forms, written, or otherwise connects me to my focus toward beauty, truth, and goodness.
Beyond my desire for political activism which is constantly mired in compromise and negotiation and has impact on a structural and institutional level, art touches the heart and the existential questions of living as a conscious human being. Art, and the emotions stirred by art, connect the inner experience of one person to another and make us feel less alone.
Being part of the world connecting people’s inner worlds across the gap between people feels like a worth-while endeavour to me even when the world doesn’t value it.
Beyond this understanding that my creative work is of value to the world, I am compelled to do this work whether I choose to or not. Without this work, my life loses its meaningfulness and I struggle with existential depression.
The only way for me to live a life engaged with the world is to constantly be shaping my experience, my knowledge, and my understanding of the world through aesthetic means into reflections of my current state, to share my deeper truths with others and reduce my own experience of existential aloneness. Through touching other people and generating the experience in them of recognition that they are not alone, I see that I, too, am one of many.
How does creating art function as a way of making your life meaningful?