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Uncertainty and disarray are hallmarks of real life. We, as humans, have personal expectations, desires, and goals, but we never really know what will happen whenever we walk through any door. Life is messy, and we spend a large amount of time attempting to create order from that messiness. As children, if we have loving and concerned parents, we are taught by example and by directive to manage ourselves and our affairs by creating some semblance of order. We may have to pick up our toys, straighten our rooms, put away our clothes, and possibly do various chores around the house to contribute to household order and stability. At school, we follow the regimen of class periods, do specific tasks at specific times, and generally experience days that are neatly organized for us. We learn, though some of us may resist, to fit, comfortably or not, into a defined and controlled environment. All the way through our developmental years in subtle and obvious ways we learn how organization and control make the world, at least intentionally, to work as efficiently and predictably as possible.
Along the way, we also find that there is unpredictability, uncertainty, uncontrollable circumstances, and sometimes tragedy. What may seem promising one moment can be followed by disappointment the next, or promises may be fulfilled after all. The more we can adjust to ambiguity and tolerate uncertainty the better we are able to live from a place of inner strength and resolve. There still will be many things beyond our control, but if we’re lucky, we may also learn that control may be overrated and sometimes creates its own set of problems.
It has been said that art imitates life. Actually, I think that art comments on life, but it is very different from life. For thousands of years artists have used art as a vehicle for observation, expression, commentary, investigation, musing, propagandizing, philosophizing, and proselytizing. Art is sometimes spontaneously expressed and sometimes carefully planned, but even when spontaneous there is structure and boundaries within which it occurs. Life, as I said before, is often messy, and artists themselves may be messy, but their art is usually orderly. When artists attempt to capture the messiness of life, they often dilute the purpose of art, which is, as I see it, to express some clear vision of what life can be in its grandest moments whether expressing beauty, understanding, endurance in the face of adversity, strength of human will and spirit, or the ability to transcend the momentary, demeaning, or banal aspects of existence. Does art sometimes venture to the darker side? Yes, but the art that does and succeeds rarely dwells there. Some spark of light is discovered that leads to hope and possibility for change even if the change does not occur within the art itself. Art may not always be uplifting, but by its crafting we find a means of questioning and contemplating those life challenges that appear unfair, disturbing, or unsolvable. We can recognize through art the shared values and qualities regardless of culture, tradition, or creed that otherwise we might not see.
Editor's Note: You can view Donald's original post here.