“Is that a pond or a puddle?” — This ironical question comes to my mind as I start losing myself in thoughts while looking at the street outside my house from my bedroom window. This is a worthless exercise in figuring out if I can construe an optical illusion.
It cannot be a pond because this is a street in the middle of the city and there is no news report of a sinkhole, earthquake or flash flood in my city. If I have never seen a pond outside before, the world could not have changed this much during the time I haven’t gone outside, surely? It cannot be, I know rationally but mind perceives it as it wants.
I keep on looking at the image of the water and it feels more and more like a pond that reflects the blue sky I cannot see directly from my window. A big pond that is much larger than me or my apartment, that can consume me as a whole. The ripples, feel like waves that carry my thoughts as they crash on the crude bitumen beaches of the pond.
Art is powerful. It has the ability to evoke joy, sorrow, relief and above all hope. All these emotions are induced by the wonderful constructions of the artist, a contraption to evoke a response from our mouse brains. The concept that world like 1984, even if it exists, would be finally brought down fills us with hope for our world. The feeling of community that exists in a small town with the peppy little Anne of Green Gables in it makes us feel content. We feel happy because it means hope exists even if it does in the imagination of other people. We cling to emotions art evokes once we discover art’s power in doing so.
There is infinite art that exists in the world, an amorphous panacea formed of a variegated catalogue of cures for each person’s ailment. You can always find a Sisyphus to accompany your climb up any mountain of your choice. And you can imagine the Sisyphus to be happy. Which makes you happy too, for aren’t you the same as your travel companion. At least you can imagine such a reality.
Reality is surely affected by art. Certainly, Voltaire’s words festered the emotions that finally brought about the french revolution. Ambedkar’s words filled up a nation's imagination to annihilate an archaic concept. We can argue about the relative degree of success but it cannot be questioned that art brings a change in this world. The world is better for the words that were written. Alas, not everyone is a creator of imaginations and most of us rely on others to lend a hand in our flights of fancies.
Sadly, reality can be dissociated with the stories we choose to tell ourselves. It is a refuge for those who chose not to accept their reality as it is. This is a merciful recluse for us meagre beings. But shall we always stay cooped in, like in a room with a single-window which we paint with scenes that we want to see outside? What shall we make of the avid reader? The greedy consumer of the words so exquisitely laid out by the thinkers that came before them. What use is their consumption if that shall not bring any change in them or their lives?
The human condition is that of suffering as Buddha said. Maybe, all we can hope to do is ameliorate our sorrows by engaging in constant devouring of these ideas and stories. How is this different from eating a Simple Rick? Just the wafers come in different flavours to cater to the needs of different consumers.
This sounds all too tragic and sad but I don’t mean to imply that there is no hope for anyone. The question now is if there is hope for you. You might change your behaviours by having to be in contact with these ideas. The fear is that most of us, just use it to pass our time. Art arouses us so and still we don’t change. After the night is over, the boy at the train station is left behind at the station and your tears are already dry as you wake up in the morning.
Hence, the final question is, what should one do with art? Should one contend with their station in life and live stoically thinking about the virtues they still possess. Should one use the brilliant worlds made by people more accomplished than them, to fill the gaps they find in their life? At one level, this is a self-benediction well deserved by us fallen beings. Then, it stops us from changing our station. Maybe we get inspired by these ideas, as they confirm that these ideals do exist — even if they do in faraway lands or in the minds more imaginative than us. But that means we leave contentment behind. Is it worth to live a life of constant flux, where your life just thrashes and slushes around never to move ahead?
In short, there is no choice and you would always feel the world is cruel. The glass always feels half empty even if there is a lot of water in the glass.
As I write these things on my keyboard, the words feel light now that they are out. Digital bits are almost weightless. But they don’t help you with what’s next.
Now that I have walked to the street, cleaned the drain, the water sloshes off to the underground network of dark pipes where it shall remain until the sewers are full again. The pond shrinks in size and you hope to see clean streets again. Slowly shrinking, it seems like finally, the sun shines on the bright grey road. But I cannot deceive myself. I know the design of the road all too well. There are gaps and crevices that are never drained even in the brightest of summers. I just wait to see the receding water leave wobbly puddles behind.
Well, what’s next then? It is quite simple actually. The day is half gone and things need to be done. So I shall ignore the puddle. For I know it shall again flood to become a pond on my street but I shall enjoy the time it takes to fill up again.