Life Outside the Box

My most recent endeavor has been to accept myself as an artist.

It’s an extremely difficult thing for me to do, for some reason.

I was brought up and put through school to believe that there was always someone higher up than me to whom I offered proof of my knowledge, intelligence, and skills. They told me, do your best on all these tests, because that’s what you do around here.

Well I caught on, very early, because of course I tested my limits in this crazy place they called life. I “acted out,” as they liked to call it, rebelled, in a sense, but really only thought to think for myself and challenge nominal authority. My thought was, well if you have authority, then why can I do… THIS!? My answer was always the same: there was no real authority here. It was made up, based rather convincingly on the subjects (that us! you! the students) willing participation. For, aren’t we all too willing to jump through these hoops, if it means less hassle, less hype and public awareness of who you are? Don’t we follow the rules to make our lives “easier,”so that we fit in and blend well with the system? So we don’t get in trouble?

So when you refuse to jump through the hoops, what happens? Well, the beautifully simple answer is: nothing. No fire falls from the sky. No ground collapses from underneath your feet. You simply continue to exist. But suddenly all these previously constricting parameters we once thought was where life ended are toppled over, exposing a vast new world far beyond the reaches of anything achievable within those oppressive walls. They were unachievable for as simple a reason as they were confined within the box. Outside of the box, there is endless potential cast off in every direction at once, like beaming rays from an ultra radiant source.

I’m out of the box. But I believe I am carrying a brick or two with me, stored neatly in my back pocket, to pull out every now and then when I get particularly scared of the infinite. MAN! I’m such a great builder. I can build walls in a matter of seconds! Strong, dependent walls to keep out all the harms of the world. It is my best skill, for I do it without even lifting a finger.

Therein lies my greatest challenge. It is exactly this skill that I must unlearn, which, I must say, is completely necessary. If I am to truly entertain the fact that I disagree with the way of life that is currently being prescribed to the masses, I must recognize just how deep they have dug into my psyche in order to assure my complete participation. I have to realize that the walls that I create in order to feel safe are built from material that they sell. We need to be separate. We need to be competing with one another. Competition breeds greatness. It completely alienates the soul. Living truly out of this box requires no walls. Openness. Honest. Humiliation. This is the stuff of life. Bask in the spotlight, because the more time you spend in it, the more you can adjust, open your eyes even further, and realize that this light was not directly honed on you but shines on everyone who chooses to open their doors, knock down their cubicle walls and question what’s beyond the box.

I believe that anyone who enters this realm is an artist. It is here that we can truly communicate to others. This communication is called art.

Art is something sacred. It is, for all intents and purposes, an escape from average daily life. There is a place that exists. It’s a state of mind, an intense focus that alleviates the pressures of daily life. There’s no judgment. There is only focus. A new awareness of your subject. A lack of awareness of anything else.

But it is not just the subject. There is more to the process. There is the process by which the subject is discovered, understood, and then put forth to others. This entire process is art. Even afterwards, the rediscovering of the source, the new interpretation, something entirely new to the artist, is art.

It is a giant rainbow, with the subject on one side and the representation on the other. The glowing, radiant, alive and beautiful arc is the creation and the viewing, the entire process blending together. To the untrained eye, the parts seem separate, distant. But anywhere you decide to pinpoint along the arc, any given entry point to the process, will connect you to its entirety. There is no start or finish. There is nothing missing. Whether you see only one step in the process – maybe just the creation, or just the representation – you are still participating in art. It is a form of communication that offers freedom and hope. It is a form of communication that relies on the recipient to create the language perceived, not solely on the initiator. It is not simply, I say and you hear what I say as truth. It is, I say, based on my own experience, and you hear, based on your own separate experience, and our lives are thusly linked together. It is the bond formed between people, with the power to cross time and space, where no other connection seems possible. It has immense power to connect people through boundless communication, without being trapped by distance, free of any restrictions based on differences. Two separate people become one through art. Ten become one. Thousands become one. We are allowed to taste the essence of humanity, the truth behind life, that we are all connected, not separate. There is no box.

I have a suggestion. Come out of your box. Crack the door and peek through a little, if you’re nervous. Or, if you’ve damn near had enough, try the sledgehammer. Do what is necessary to come out and have a look around. Then you can decide if you want to go back. But you must try it. As for me, well I’m trying my best to put down my spare bricks, but I think through art I am getting closer and closer to getting rid of my walls forever.

One thought on “Life Outside the Box

  • May 5, 2015 at 2:08 pm
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    Wow Tom! I love it. The “Box” as you describe it is definitely a con-founding spectacle that has the masses warped by countless particles, which when combined, can be as hard as concrete. Today… you’ve done a good job of inspiring me (even at my age) to push back against one of it’s walls so that at least one other view called “art” can be exposed, embraced and celebrated in an entire new ray of light. Thanks for that Tom.
    This is the first time I’ve seen your site and I’m exciting to read on. It’s great to know your thoughts as you experience life and learn from all its environments. Even though I know how much we all miss you, I for one, am happy that your bag of bricks are fewer than most.
    Be FREE Be SAFE!
    Uncle Dave

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