I did not grow up in a culture, family or creed where art–or even the artists themselves–have any value. So, I never valued them.

I am a pragmatic man through and through. For the longest time, I thought that ‘these people’ who throw caution to the wind and follow their heart are irresponsible individuals who do not contribute to the betterment of society.

They should get a job, settle down, get married and do ‘the right thing’.

It does not make sense to work years on end doing unpaid work when you have no idea when you, your talent, your work and your gifts will be recognised.

I have heard stories of artists who went mad.

I have heard stories of perfectly intelligent people who went berserk because no one understood or supported the path they chose.

I know people who have dissented at great personal risk.

Wouldn’t you be better off working in a job which gave you security and a safety net?

I realise now I had a very shallow understanding of what motivates people.

Yes, some people, and in particular, some people from some cultures, are particularly motivated by stability.

Others have different priorities. We cannot label people who deviate from the norm of society as rebels, heretics and outcasts.

In a flourishing society, there is room for everyone. Or at least, there should be room for everyone. How can a society consider itself successful if there are no artists to celebrate and commemorate its existence?

If you want to be a writer, you should be a writer.

If you want to be an artist, you should be an artist.

If you want to be a singer, you should be a singer.

And if you want to be a dancer, you should be a dancer.

What kind of world would we live in if everyone was a lawyer, a doctor or an accountant?

Who will drive the buses?

Who will awaken us from our waking slumber?

I never believed in the validity of the work that artists did.

I realise now that it is because I made a choice. A conscious decision not to feel. A conscious decision to discount and dismiss the role that human emotion plays in our decision-making process.

To me, human intellect and intelligence reigned supreme. I realise now that it is a futile attempt of the ego to control, to coerce and to constrain.

When your child or your spouse decides to become an artist–what do you do? You worry about their future.

How can the mere act of holding a pen, a paintbrush or a musical instrument step on the toes of so many people’s sensibilities?

We have guns and warfare in this world, for God’s sake. We celebrate when we are victorious in war, but we diminish the artist.

We imprison artists and put them in a cage. But to them, society is the cage. A society that preaches morality and yet is immoral to its very core.

I walked around a museum in my neighbourhood today and I was utterly unimpressed by what was on display. If this is art, then I quite simply don’t get it.

Within two minutes of sitting down, I nudged my partner and said, “Let’s get out of here.”

When there is a musical, I have no desire to go. I had very little appreciation for the arts. I was cynical, dismissive, and maybe even downright rude.

And then–as the story goes–I met a girl.

She’s an artist.

Let me tell you, the fact that the joke’s on me hasn’t gone unnoticed.

She woke me up from my slumber. And now, I can’t go back to sleep.

Image credit: Dipa Sanatani

One thought on “Who will awaken us from our waking slumber?

  1. I can truly connect with this one. Artists make the world a better place to live in. And yet, they are the ones who have to face its wrath the most. Artists can free us from our cage and yet we tend to put them in a cage! True, if there weren’t any artists, there would be no one to awaken us…

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