Zachary R. Young

            There is a painter inside of every human being. You may tell me no; but someday or some strange night, you may suddenly realize that you’ve been painting your own masterpiece all along. Okay, so maybe it’s not turning out exactly as you had envisioned it; but if you lose all hope; all faith or love in yourself or whatever you believe in now, then you must ask yourself this question: What has gotten me here? Why do I find myself either wanting to live or not wanting to die? What is it that keeps me running after it or keeps me running away from it? Why am I even running at all? Why do I still choose to exist as the individual that I am? If you find it difficult to answer these questions then you may want to dig deeper. Sometimes you must search far and wide if you ever want to find what you’re truly looking for; even if it had been there all along, right in front of you which is usually the case. Do not think you had wasted any time; rather it is the opposite. You had spent enough time and earned enough wisdom that was required to see it. So, if you’re still living now then you must be some kind of artist by just living as yourself, to be yourself in terms of experiencing your own life with respect to the world around you. The day you were born you were given a blank canvas. All of us, for as long as we remain human-like as we’ve always known ourselves to be throughout history, are born as artists because we are forced to perceive our entire human experience as if it were a canvas. How you perceive that canvas, what you intend to do with it and what you actually make of it will determine the kind of experience that you and only you must be held accountable for. As you experience every living second of your life, the canvas is the only reason that you are able to distinguish yourself as uniquely as any other human would by leaving your most valuable marks on it. Whatever effort you found was worth putting forth is what characterizes your reflection in this world that you can’t help but look upon from memory and interaction. Do you want to see the canvas blank until your time with the canvas is up? What do you want to do? Does it compel you to want to master it in some way?

            As you experience life, are there certain things that you value more than anything? And do you naturally want those values to exemplify your entire existence which represents your entire being as a human? Who knows, you may not even want to paint on it; after all, you are the one and only artist, the one and only creator and determinist of the canvas before you. You may find that the canvas with its wood frame and gesso’d surface would rather compel you to ___ or ___. Whatever the case, you are already expressing yourself artistically by just perceiving it as such. The canvas is your reality because it is a direct reflection of what you’ve chosen to experience from your perception of it. You are the artist, the observer, the creator of your experience, the skeptic and the decision maker. You’ll find that you are only as free as you’re willing to be and your free-will stretches only as far as the choices that you are willing to be conscious of which is exactly what allows you to sense the kind of freedom that is present when you are given the freedom to choose from one or more options. Whether physically or non-physically, the freedom that you have depends on all of the choices your will chooses to be are aware of. If you can see any hint of potential in the canvas, the reality of it and your experience that lies before you, you are existing as a human being; and if you exist as a human being then you must first exist as an artist which is what makes you human. What you decide to do with that potential becomes thought or idea which then becomes intention; it is what makes you the human being that you are and the artist that you’ve always been. You know it; you must know it at least by now. If you cannot accept this truly undeniable fact that you are a human only because you have been an artist all along then you should stop here and consider yourself anything other than what you think you are not. After every stroke you lay, mark you make, or impression you leave on the canvas, it will always remind you of what you’ve done, what you want to do and where you want to go; yet these are just stones that skip across the water-top temporarily as a means; developing a much larger formation beneath and bringing clarity to whatever ends that the stone-skipper is willing to be aware of and further manifest. Creativity is the ability to see potential. You have it, I have it and so do all other human beings that are thrown into this reality who exist for reasons that they must and who are not meant to entirely be aware of until their will calls or moves within them.


            Think about it; no really, don’t just glance at the very thought of it. Seriously, there is nothing more that I’d want for you to do at this moment than to just think about it…How often are skilled or talented individuals respected for their creations or actions? What they should really be respected for is their ability to “care” enough to put all of their effort and time into what they’ve chosen to make out of their experience and their ability to avoid being distracted by the complexities that may’ve clouded their focus. Anybody could’ve done what they’ve done; they just chose to direct their passion and patience toward something else. Art is everything because everything is a work of art; a work produced by some intelligent designer who had once saw potential in something as if it were a blank canvas and then decisively chose to put it into reality with enough wisdom, practice and patience. All art is creation so all creation is art. The real art behind creation is not in the skills or abilities but it is rather in the diligence, the effort, the passion and patience behind the creator, with major respect to their vision (or their ability to visualize); who chooses to value it enough to actually make it their purpose for existing or at least a part of their experience which is yet another stroke or impression upon their canvas. The proof is out there, in fact, it is everything, it is all creation that we’ve chosen to perceive from our experience of this reality. So the question is not to ask whether you are an artist or not because even the most ugliest or out-of-wack things were artistically created because they exist for reasons that can be traced back to the eyes of the artist that had envisioned it. So, not all art is beautiful but everything including beauty is art; because everything that exists must’ve been brought into existence by whomever or whatever that found it worthy or valuable enough to have created it. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, they say, but there must be the eyes of an artist to behold it if such a beauty were to be held. If you cannot find any value in beauty or any value at all in human characteristics such as beauty then you must not be surprised if you are ever mistaken for being anything but a human.


            There are three reasons that may help to explain why I had written this for all to read. The first reason is to not so much persuade hard-headed people out there that this is the one and only way life is (I have written much about that but that’s another discussion for another time) but to offer them, as well as others, another way to view or experience this life that had given us the opportunity to be aware of it only once. The second reason is to offer some hope or inspiration to all of those that already consider themselves artists in some kind of way; whether it is by simply viewing the world as artistically as they possibly can or by diversely expressing their interpretation(s) of the world given the circumstances and conditions.

            The third reason is for you to know how many times an artist is lied to by others. “I wish I could do that!” or “I’m not an artist.” Nobody ever wants to hear what you can’t do or what you are not, especially when you know for a fact that it’s just something that you honestly have not chosen to put the heart, effort or time into. So what would make more sense and what would be a more truthful comment is if “I wish I could do that!” was said as “I wish I cared enough to do that!” or “I wish I could’ve valued that enough to actually create the kinds of things that you’ve created!” So, the question that should really be asked is: What kind of artist are you? Whenever I hear “I am not an artist,” it never makes any sense to me if my perception of you, as the human-being in front of me, is correct. “I am not an artist,” sounds to me like “I am not a human.” In response, I would not be ashamed and you should not be surprised if I said, “Well then, if you are not an artist, then what in this world am I speaking to?” It’s like they tell me, “I know you are, but what am I?” as if we were children again. And when you do finally tell me what you are; your world, along with everyone you just lied to, will be rest-assured and placed back into order as soon as you realize, once again that you’ve always been an artist, you just hadn’t enough understanding to accept what seemed to you as an unfamiliar truth.

            What art really is, to me at least, is the order that is extracted or perceived from chaos; the sense or reason that is made from confusion, the uniform aspect of all diversity. Whatever that was designed for a greater cause, for purposes that we sometimes cannot understand, with only what it had been given to work with, even with such limited resources or abilities, was done so artistically because even we humans can agree that it makes at least enough sense to be able to continue to live as we do. The fact that we are able to make at least some sense of anything should be enough reason for us to make the best of what we can perceive to have been created for the purpose of it existing as well as our awareness of it so as to keep living and defining our own idea of what it means to experience the “best of all freedoms” (in possibly the worst of all conditions because everyone thinks they have it “bad” and “bad” knows that it has everybody except for the people who don’t think of themselves).


            Living under the illusion of the society you were raised in is the same thing as painting for a commission; under the vision (or supervision) of your client. You may even paint the most beautiful masterpiece which had turned out to be a piece that anyone should be proud about and a piece that really demonstrates your masterful abilities. As all of this may satisfy many things (such as the things you may have been led to believe were ideal), none of this may be relevant to your actual goal of achieving self-fulfillment or living purposefully; unless of course you truly feel that it really is your duty or your actual reason for existing at the time. But if there are any concerns, underlying instincts, or any subconscious doubts that agree with your instincts; then you must consider who you are painting for. This should’ve been taken into consideration well before you’d even started painting but it is never too late to finish what has not yet been done; it is never too late to fully understand what your own unchanging ends are in order to successfully progress by changing your means to reach it.

            We are blinded by the past and distracted by the present; which leaves us too indecisive to be certain of the future. Is this what they mean by blind faith? To have blind faith is to believe that justice will be served when the time is necessary. You know not what is to come; but what you do know is that as long as you exist in a world of justice there will never be peace; so, perhaps justice is the truth that all men seek whether personally or universally. Our belief in justice may be the blind faith we feel so driven to rely upon; and it is more spiritual than we could imagine.

            Too often we blame various issues on our complex nature. However, our issues come not from the complexity of our nature but rather from an inability to decide due to a lack of wisdom. It is easy to maximize complexity and possibility; as many may come to realize that there are infinite possibilities in this reality. However, it is not so easy to simplify all of the complexity for its true value and/or meaning to us. I once heard that the hard part is not figuring out how to make the bomb explode but rather it is figuring out how to keep the bomb from going exploding. We can dig as deep as we want, or make things as complex as we can possibly imagine, that is easy; but the further we go down the rabbit hole, the more difficult it becomes to find an answer worthy enough to satisfy what we are capable of perceiving which makes our self-induced complexity seem so difficult; yet it only seems so difficult because we should realize the true difficulty lies within our own power or lack thereof it to set our own limits. When in reality, it is because we expect to find an answer with the same quality or quantity that it took to us to find it. Or maybe it is because we forget to look from within ourselves to the kind of satisfaction that would meet our own standards and not always to the standards of others. In short, we go so far that we don’t know when to stop because we are unfamiliar with our own limits or our own goals or our own idea of what makes us feel completely at rest or content or free. We feel so “un-free” or so much false freedom because we have chosen to experience and live within the freedom of another person’s (society’s) boundaries. To experience a true sense of our own freedom we must designate our own boundaries because if we live within another’s then we will never truly feel or be free. So, it is not our complex nature that makes things seem so difficult; it is our lack of clearly understanding a true ends. When we do not know what we are trying to get to, our means toward reaching what is unknown should also be expected to be unknown. The more we know ourselves and our true necessities, the more moderate and satisfactory our experience may become. Hence, the reason why I believe we are not as complex as we think; just too often indecisive we are to avoid complication. We give ourselves so many choices because the more choices we give ourselves, the less freedom we have to be satisfied. The more room we give to choice or the more space that we allow choices to occupy, the less room there is to be free.

            “Lead, follow or get out the way!” If you do nothing then you either do not exist or you are already dead. But one thing is true; if you do anything at all, for as long as you are what you humanly believe you are, you are doing so as an artist because your consciousness allows yourself the freedom to construct the on-going experience of your existence. This is what makes you such a unique organism, a being whose nature must exist artistically, not just by the nature of instinct and will but by the nature of intellect and reason. So many philosophers were right. Intellect and reason must ride and guide the horse; a horse who is of pure instinct and will, unbound by reason, and who lives freely off of the ever-changing means with no intention of reaching any kind of ends to the means unless there is a rider to guide them or give them some sense of purpose or meaning so that they do not let their freedoms lead to their own demise.

            I want to live I don’t live to want. I’ve learned that I want to live now only because I’ve found so much to die for; so much more that may need me to help it in order for it to carry-on and help the rest get better. There are so many good things in this world to die for even to the smallest degree; we just have to start understanding that our own individual existence is worth no more than what truly deserves to exist; or maybe our own lives are worth no more than what we value ourselves. So maybe what I really want is to die so that I can finally live to not want; free from wanting to live and free from wanting to die to be totally free so that no burden of anything shall weigh me down. But until then I know that I must accept the conditions and circumstances that I am given until my purpose has been served.

            There is so much more I would like to express and share but I have yet to write enough text in the book of my life to comment or reflect upon it. Life before books, text before commentary. As Schopenhauer said, “Experience of the world may be looked upon as a kind of text, to which reflection and knowledge form the commentary. Where there is a great deal of reflection and intellectual knowledge, and very little experience, the result is like those books which have on each page two lines of text to forty lines of commentary.” Therefore, I must live more to know more, to write more and to reflect more.

            So, when you ask me, “I know you are, but what am I?” Deep down, I know that what you really mean to say is…“I know you are an artist, and so am I.”

            The more choices we become aware of, the less likely we are to choose out of our necessity to make an appropriate choice. We give ourselves so many choices; and the more choices we give ourselves the less freedom we have to be satisfied.

            The more room we give to choice and the more space we allow choices to occupy, the less room there is to be free.