Loneliness, I’ve read, is the source of growing mental and physical health problems across America. It is felt from the very young to the very old. As jobs hold more of our time than in the past we have less time to spend with those we care about the most. Coupled with social media,we are even more isolated than before. The aging population are greatly affected by this growing concern and resources are slim to accommodate the inflated need for companionship.
Once we have isolated ourselves from the rest of the world we begin to believe that we cannot relate to nor believe others can relate to, ourselves. Interactions can become difficult and awkward. The cycle of thoughts stemming from our awkward interactions validates our belief that we are, indeed, unworthy of companionship. Competitiveness and comparisons crowd our thoughts, and feelings of inadequacy reinforces that feeling of unworthiness. It is a difficult pattern to break.
This pattern can be broken though, through many different forms. Music, dance, journaling, meditation, prayer, spirituality are some that come to mind but the form that appeals to me most is the process of creation, namely of art. Not just because of the benefits proven time and time again by researchers, but because I have seen and experience this power before. I can list the researchers and the articles and the specific benefits that creativity can bring all day long but I am a personal creature by nature and I draw (no bun intended) on those personal experiences as proof. The many people who have come to my classes I have remained friends with to this day.
The creation of art brings people together by sharing the experience of creativity . Ideas, techniques, and frustrations as well as joys and success are all shared around the table. Jokes, laughter, concerns about topics that are much deeper than just how to apply paint on canvas come up. I’ve seen tears shed in laughter and in pain across the easels. I’ve seen children that never met before instantly become friends through their simple interest in painting unicorns and mermaids. Under the roof that is art, strangers from different backgrounds find their community. Art kills, for a time if not forever, this illusion of separation of the other. Art kills the illusion of us and them.
I know that the mass majority of us are not Rembrandt’s, including myself but why should that stop us from enjoying the elements that make up art? Do you ever stop yourself, dazzled by the intensity of a color or how the light dances across a face? Do you get lost in someone’s eyes, or become transfixed on a sunset. Before art can be made, beauty has to be appreciated and most of us have that innate ability. I urge you to find yourself a beginners class, a sip and paint, a drink and draw, and all the other clever titles that they might have to capture your attention, and take your brush boldly to a canvas among the many others who are seeking friendship to paint badly but without care for everyone can find comfort and much needed humor that lightens the soul. I promise you it is not like any other experience and most people walk away a little more connected. After all who could argue with all these smiling faces?