I already know I will spend my whole life grasping at language that can so simply describe what means most to me in life. Wrapping up my most precious moments in a poem or a melodic line. Immortalizing the moments where a singular tear fell down my cheek, or my eyes didn’t want to look away from someone I care about deeply. Words so accurate that when I look back at them one day, I’ll laugh or want to give my past self a hug.
One of my favorite feelings in life is the one that arises when I experience art that seems to perfectly encapsulate a similar feeling. An oddly specific line that alludes to an unknowingly universal or shared experience. Art doesn’t have to be “the best thing ever written” for it to resonate. Art is subjective. No thought is truly original, or else no one would be able to relate.
Imagine a world where no one understood any sort of communication that others attempted. How would we find common ground? This reminds me of that story in the Bible (I think, right?) where no one was able to speak the same language. Forced to find different ways of communicating. Could we do it? The Tower of Babel was never finished. I don’t have an answer, although I have an inkling that art could be the way. If we get off our high horses, that is. I love that art highlights our commonalities and exposes our gaps when it comes to individual experience. I believe that’s why consuming and producing art by people from completely different walks of life than your own is more vital than ever. I grew up reading books of male heroes, but my male peers weren’t expected to enjoy The Hunger Games because how could they even begin to relate to Katniss? Anyone who surrounds themselves with people from the exact same walks of life, why? I beg you to ask yourself why. I find myself occasionally challenging my own comfort with this question. Anyway, this is a topic for another time, I’ll get off my little soapbox now and get back to talking about art in another potentially pretentious way.
I used to feel envious of those who write naturally with big words that I would only be able to utilize with an open thesaurus in hand. Sometimes I still am. I used to wholeheartedly believe that all writing needed to be as complex and intricate as those books we read in English class. While I am in awe of those authors’ talents and the stories they are able to tell (thank you Ms. Gieleghem, Mr. Cautero, and Mr. Ridenour for introducing me to those books), I do not think my writing is anywhere near this caliber of work. I finally am accepting that it does not need to be. I’ve noticed that once my perfectionist brain is able to wrap my head around maybe not being perfect at something, I can start trying. Like I said before, I don’t believe art needs to be objectively the best or produced in a certain form. What do I believe writing is, then?
It’s about capturing a moment. Living in a feeling. Curves and lines intersect with each other, and somehow we know what it means. We’ve taught each other the combinations and call that communication. And yet, written and spoken language often fall short. Sentences can be misconstrued when sent via text or written in a letter. We lock eyes with someone we love, unable to find the words to prove how much we care about them, so we say “I love you.” We rush to judge those who don’t say precisely the right thing when under pressure, but given the same circumstances, would we? Certain formations of letters signify a hatred that cuts through the skin, past the blood, right to the gut. We turn to an entire catalogue of words that Stephen Sondheim wrote about the human experience to try to begin to process a world without him living and writing anymore. New words are coined by younger generations that my parents would never understand unless they googled them (see, even google can be a verb now). Rather than continuing to be afraid of language, its power, and the weight that comes with it, I’ve decided to embrace it.
I long to document my life. Maybe there’s such a thing as over-documenting. Maybe my “quote notes” of my incredible friends are an example of that. Maybe my never-ending camera roll is an example of that. Maybe I’ll fall into the trap of living in the past. But I’d like to find the balance between creating and living.