Our likes say so much about us. I’m not talking about Facebook “likes”, I mean the real ones, those things in life that bring us joy.
In everything there is a revealing, and likes are no different. They give us direction when direction can’t elsewhere be found. They bring us together in friendships and set us apart in uniqueness. They are essential to our identity.
Sometimes, though, we forsake our likes. Creatives are no different than anyone else. When money and time are in short supply all of us tend to cut the things that most enrich our lives. Regardless of who you are, art is often one of the first things to go.
We rail about city councils and school boards slashing funding for music and art programs, but when our own budgets are tight, how many of us think to take in a show or head to the latest exhibit?
I have a feeling that a lot of us who say we’re creatives aren’t really living artful lives. We stop seeing the beautiful in the everyday. We stop communicating the truest truths. The choice to actively produce comes hard to some caught up in a culture of consumption.
In an attempt to guard against the loss of my likes, and to keep my creativity freely flowing, I recently decided to make a change. I sprung for a membership to a local art museum.
I know what you’re thinking, how cliché, but the decision was not made lightly. How you spend money is a reflection of your priorities. For me, purchasing a membership represents a commitment to remain connected to the local arts scene.
Within weeks of joining, the member’s welcome packet arrived. A professor of mine used to say there are worlds beneath blades of grass. The world that rose up from my meager membership due was astounding. Beyond simple museum admission, there was so much that I, as yet, had not been privy to. The member’s-only magazine made mention of galas and balls, host committees and chairs, VIP receptions and after parties, auctions and fundraisers, and names…so many names.
This was not what I expected. While I enjoy and try to appreciate fine art, it is one of my likes, I don’t much care for all the uppity trappings that so often accompany it. I get that arts organizations have bills to pay, but there’s a bit of difference between helping to cover costs and looking to update or overhaul one’s social status by affixing a decal on a windshield. Good art should be inclusive and available to all, not something that has a tone of exclusivity or an air of inflated importance.
I wanted to stay connected, but instead I got a little closer to the connected, and in doing so, missed my mark.
All of this got me to thinking about the accessibility of art. Is it a luxury only a few choice folks are privileged enough to enjoy? Might one live an artful life without knowing the right people or paying the right dues?
Paintings and sculptures are good, symphonies and operas as well, but there is a piece of art that is more accessible than any other, one that doesn’t require dues, though it was bought for a price.
There is one work of art that is completely available to you, because it is you.
C.S. Lewis said that being like Christ “is more like painting a portrait than obeying a set of rules.” What a radical notion, that we are all artists, insomuch as we are writing our own stories and painting our own portraits.
You don’t have to step foot in the finest museums around. You don’t even need to be able to draw a straight line. Every choice you make is a brush stroke and the Christ-like-ness of your daily decisions will dictate how beautiful your finished product.
Return to the likes God gave you, and allow them to enrich. Don’t settle for the man-imposed, exclusionary aspects of beauty or the best art–every moment you live you are advancing the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Darkness. You are constantly creating on an eternal scale.
When your budget is a shoestring, when beauty is in short supply, keep a Christ-like concern for others and witness the un-matched beauty of His great love.
Joshua Seth Minatrea is a Dallas-area thinker and creative. His aim is to gain and give space, time and direction for creation. He has never been bored. Real books, espresso-based beverages and pocket-sized reporter Moleskines are a few of his favorite things.