Art and Humanity have gone hand in hand since the first cave drawings were clumsily scrawled across cracked and pock-marked stone. While, historically, these drawings have been relegated to serving the simple purpose of explaining the world around our ancestors… I suspect their benefit runs deeper than that.
Art ushered in the invention of story telling — communication of a higher order. With this new means of connecting to one another (not simply for cooperation, but for entertainment) came something new. Intimacy. Intimacy not on a strictly physical level, some natural drive to keep our species going; there began the bonding of souls, for lack of a better word.
With the ability to express their deepest selves, our ancestors unarguably began to care for one another much more than they had previously. These cave-mates began forming identities that went beyond the killing fields — identities that could not be held within the confines of damp, dark, and cold caves. Losing an ally who communicated his/her fear and joy, as most of us probably know, hurts far more than losing an instrument, or a complete stranger.
Art became the finest remedy for this new-found sense of loss, of pain. I believe that the very same can be said of art in the modern age. These nearly infinite means of expressing ourselves, and which by great fortune allow us to connect with others — even those we do not know, may never know — remain as the strongest cure for broken hearts, tired minds, and weary souls.
Creativity and Art are essential to perpetuating the human race. (Save the date I have said this, and look back after giving it some thought. I suspect you’ll agree.) Consider waking up after a horrid break-up, but having no music to listen to, to relate to. Consider never having had the founders of German Expressionism paint such vivid, beautiful looks at the common landscapes and objects we take for granted every day. Consider never having had an author write a book that spoke directly to you, reassured you that you were not alone.
Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.”
This is the message that all art contains, hidden within its depths and oft superficial traits. It is the reassurance that there is good reason to recover, a protective embrace that keeps the last of our selves from shattering from the traumas that besiege us almost daily.
Art, and the ability to create it, redeems us of all our trespasses. It is the flickering flame that connects us all to one another, and sees us safely into the next morning.