I recently met an artist, a lady who makes her living through the art of painting. I had this image of an artist being on the hippie side of things…just someone who one day decides to pick up a canvass and brush, and nonsensically paints away to her heart’s desire. I was wrong. Utterly wrong. Thankfully. You see as my friend explained, there is a process even to painting, and the process is quite a difficult one at that, too. Just like religion, just like karate-do, just like life itself, and anything that has value and merit at the end, one must go through the gauntlet of the hard, technical basics. In religion it is the Sunday school grind. In karate-do it is the hammering of repetitive basics. In painting it is the honing of its particular technical skill. The freedom and beauty one sees in art, is really the outcome of the angst…the interplay between the years of hard discipline, and the need for self expression. What emanates from that struggle, is real. Is value. Is truth. Is art. Anything other than that is child’s play. If I, with zero technical experience, took up painting today and presented it to the world, it would be empty. It would be the grade school drawing your mom put on the fridge door, only to make you feel good about yourself.
Sadly, the feel good about yourself and believing in your own bullshit type are a plenty, here in Orange County. You know… the dime a dozen nouveau riche, miserable in their marriage, who’ve gone to a few tourist traps abroad, and have read “Eat, Pray Love” type books and come back thinking they have spiritual insight. They’re cute, talk the talk, and put on a good show, but they’re still miserable and confused…and they still cheat on their husbands. It’s because they are empty. Like me attempting to paint, they are grasping at straws. There’s no solid foundation. Even their religion is a self created, ad hoc, pick and choose what feels good, and lets ignore the unpleasant stuff guide to life. Life my friends, doesn’t work that way. Even religion doesn’t work that way. With compassion and love, their must also be justice. Deluding oneself by chasing the fleeting, feel good side of things, the worldly pleasures that have an expiration date, only adds to confusion and loss.
To be a free thinker, a hippie, an artist, a painter, a karateka…. a human being with worth and respect…one must do, what even an artist does.