Why we need the arts

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I believe in the arts because the arts have continued to give me a safe outlet to become my whole self. The arts have helped me heal and learn and grow and transform. The arts offer a safe space in which to be human—within a certain context. The context changes--whether it is a stage or a screen or the frame of a photograph, a piece of paper or canvas, or whether it is a time boundary as in performance—the length of a song or a set or the length of a story or a play. The context determines the parameters of being. We show up and we become—we reclaim the parts of ourselves that were hidden. We reveal our truths. We expand who we are through awareness and being and expression.

This work is lonely a lot of the time. There is little recognition, money, encouragement, understanding, interest from others. It is hard to hold the value of something that can so easily disappear. We all judge the arts from a place of wounding at times. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t carry some sort of art wound. Someone somewhere told you that you weren’t good enough or that you couldn’t do something that you wanted to try or that you weren’t talented enough, or that you weren’t old enough or young enough, some one told you that you weren’t strong enough, educated enough, experienced enough. Someone told you that you weren’t loud enough or quiet enough or big enough or skinny enough. Some one told you that you didn’t know what you were doing, or that you knew too much. Someone told you that you didn’t know how to stay in control. Someone told you that you didn’t look right or sound right. Someone told you that you are boring or stupid or goofy or they just didn’t get you.

How many of us don’t feel understood? How many of us hide and don’t share how we really feel? How many of us criticize and judge as a way to keep distance between us? How many of us need healing? How many of us stopped singing or dancing or drawing or playing when we went to primary school? Or middle school? Or high school? Or when we became an adult? Or when we had children? How many of us judge ourselves for being too weak, too emotional, not creative enough, not talented enough, not natural enough? How many of us judge each other for exposing ourselves? For being ourselves?

How many of us long for a greater expression of who we are? How many of us long to find compassion, self-love and acceptance? How many of us long to be seen and understood? How many of us feel like we are waiting for some future moment when we can finally be ourselves? How many of us want to reach out to others but we are afraid? How many of us reach for entertainment, drugs, alcohol or other soothers to numb out the pain of being human? How many of us feel alone in our pain? How many of us pretend we are okay when we really aren’t? How many of us long to feel more connected, more part of a community? How many of us wish to feel more alive? How many of us long to feel more authentic? How many of us long to be more creative? How many of us long to live a more meaningful and connected life?

This is why I do what I do: to help people wake up to the full truth of who they are. I use the arts—filmmaking, dance, photography, drawing, painting, writing, storytelling, drama, improvisation—as a tool for self-awakening, for compassion, for discovering one's passions, for reaching one’s potential, for truthful emotional expression, for aliveness. The arts are here for us so we can feel our aliveness. They are not just for showing off (though sometimes they can be) or for getting attention (though sometimes they can be). The arts are a mirror of the human spirit. The arts are a path of human connection. The arts make us whole. The arts show us who we are. The arts help us create meaning. The arts inspire us to both embrace and rise above the human condition. The arts help us to understand each other. The arts help us to speak and express our truth. The arts hold our emotions. The arts help us know who we are. The arts grow our imagination, our compassion, our passion, our presence, our creativity, our intuition, our integration.

The arts help us be who we are.