What Does Art Look Like?

My son was drawing something on a page.

Usually, he doesn’t use lots of colours or design anything intricate, but he loves expressing whatever’s passing through his imagination at that moment.

I think that expressing what we’re truly feeling has got to be one of the forgotten abilities of adults. We’ve mastered the art of acting like everything’s okay and it’s killing us slowly. But that’s a topic for another day.

Anyway, he was halfway through a drawing of a ship when he asked me if it looks right. So I told him that before most things were invented, nobody knew how they looked except the person designing them. 

He thought about this for a while and said, “That means if you’re making something, you get to choose how it looks”. Perfect.

I’d never expressed this in these exact words before but it’s one of the many things he’s unwittingly taught me.

Everyone (myself included) notices things, systems & ideas which they don’t necessarily agree with. We notice problems to which we believe we have the solutions and we often come across situations which we believe could have been better handled.

We speak of products that could have been designed better. News that could have been delivered more meaningfully or education that could have more effective outcomes. Disgruntled staff have thousands of ideas about improving their working environments or suggestions on how their employers could have handled a situation better.

Now, most of us will do nothing but complain about these issues. Or we’ll shrug our shoulders and just carry on because “that’s the way things are”.

Here’s the thing: You only get to choose how it looks if you’re making it.

If you don’t like what standardised education means for your kids, homeschool or even, unschool them. If your employer doesn’t pay you what you believe you should be earning, build your side-hustle and grow multiple income streams. If you feel that there’s something that you need to share with the world, start a blog or podcast. Instead of commenting on what isn’t working, show us how you make it work.

“I’m too busy” is an excuse. “I don’t have the tools” is an excuse. “I’d do it but I have other things to do” is an excuse. People doing meaningful work always make adjustments, not excuses.

You don’t need permission from anyone and you most certainly don’t need to have someone approve of your solutions to your problems.

The important thing to remember is that if you can’t or won’t change how a situation/problem / experience looks, there’s no point in complaining about it.

Everyone believes that ‘someone’ should do ‘something’. What we often forget is that we are all ‘someone’ and we are the ones who must do the ‘something’.

You can’t play the game if you’re sitting on the sidelines and spectators don’t get to affect the outcome of the game.

It’s time to leave the culture of spectatorship and embrace active participation in our own lives.

Back to my son’s drawing. Is it an accurate depiction of the ships we see these days? Not at all. But that doesn’t matter because when you’re making something, you get to decide how it looks.

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