2016 is finally over and, like most folks, I’ve been reflecting on what a bizarre year it’s been. Setting aside the inevitable naughty and nice lists, the place my meditations consistently come back to is the concept of Chaos, that relentless howling wind tearing at our peace of mind. If fear is the opposite of love, then chaos is most certainly the opposite of peace.
2016 has shown us the face of chaos in all of its gibbering glory. From an election full of such hateful rhetoric it’s scaring the pants off of even my most non-political friends, to unimaginable world-wide wars, bombings and acts of desperate terrorism brought to us in living color via the internet. Sound-bites and headlines that make no sense, yet are accepted as truths. The deaths of family, some in their right time, some unexpected, and the deaths of musicians, writers and actors have left us reeling.
Thinking about the year I had an insight as to why we cherish our artists and why we take their passing so hard. I was also struck by how many artists were unwilling to perform for the upcoming inauguration and my epiphany crystalized.
Art is how we as a species tame the chaotic thoughts and emotions of our imperfect humanity. Art is how we conquer fear and birth inspiration and hope. Art, and its cousins science, mathematics, philosophy, and logic, give us a matrix where we can sort our pinball thoughts and feelings and give rest to our screeching animal hindbrains. Art shows us the ways we can feel empathy and gives us permission to laugh at ourselves. Art tells us we aren’t alone.
Our artists have spent years perfecting their craft and learning how to connect with us by understanding us. Artists open their hearts to all that is good and all that is messed up in living life as a human being. They take that stew of humanity and distill it into something we can understand and give it back in a story or poem or painting. Every time we create, we set chaos back, and for that reason alone I believe art will be our salvation. We should sing at the top of our lungs, dance to exhaustion and play music until our fingers bleed. We should paint and draw and weave and sew and sculpt and knit and write write write all the beautiful poems and stories as if our lives depended on it, because they do. In that place of creation we transform Chaos to its beautiful form of Peace and in peace we find our true selves.
Happy New Year to all of you!