Art of heart

There are many artists who you’d call prolific. However, only a few of the many end up showcasing their innovative creations. So many talented artists never make it to the big walls of national museums. Regardless, seeing those who do, and who do it in unique ways, makes you realise that art is an undefinable, endless stream of consciousness. There’s no one right way to art, and those who say otherwise haven’t experienced true art.

Nam June Paik, a Korean-American artist is an innovator. The pioneer of video art, he also created what seems like scrawls but are deep-meaning works. Like this one. It’s a showpiece in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It’s my shadow that reflects on the art, right on top of the heart. Though sloppy in terms of photography, I like how unintentional, yet meaningful it is that I hover over the heart that pumps, that’s complete and full of love.

Modern Art - SFMOMA - Nam June Paik.jpeg

You should also take a look at the original artwork on the SFMOMA website.



The muse stops.

The screen freezes.

The block appears. And you’re stuck.

It’s so common nowadays to claim a writer’s block. Professionals do it all the time. Even amateurs often find it hard to go further than the first few scrawny lines they managed on their big novel.

I’ve felt the same so many times. However, I don’t think it’s valid to name it writer’s block. No one’s blocked in the literal sense. Writing is a habit. It’s practice.

Even art isn’t art without practice.

The problem is, we often define writing as a creative job. People stereotype writers as wearing big round glasses, sleep-deprived, coffee-fueled, alcohol addicts. I don’t think so. Sure, we’ve seen a lot of great writers who match the description as much as twins look alike. Nevertheless, writers are different with varied perspectives and tastes. Not every writer writes only when they’ve gulped a pot of coffee. Not every writer needs alcohol to keep them typing.

Some writers just sit at the computer and write.

The reason is that they approach writing as a part of their life. It’s not an impulsive muse that needs to hit them at the right time at the right spot. It’s, instead, a ritual they go through because they choose to commit to it.

Writing in its pure sense is communication between the writer and the reader. It should be simple and straightforward if the reader is to glean anything at all. There’s no place for showing off there. Sure, poetry and fiction need a creative streak. And, yes, readers often enjoy an occasional wordplay or the clever turn of phrase. But all that comes from editing, and not the writing itself. For the first draft of anything is often us telling the story to ourselves.

When we approach our everyday writing like it’s verbal diarrhoea—or logorrhoea, in technical terms—there’s no way we’d get blocked. Whether we’re a professional non-fiction writer, an amateur, or a novel novelist, at the end of the day, we’re just a writer. It’s our job.

And when we have a job to do, we can’t afford to slack. No other job gets the block. 

Hospitality is a huge industry. Thousands of staff work day in and out throughout the calendar to ensure the rest of us are comfortable. I’ve never seen housekeeping personnel claiming they’re blocked. They get tired and even bored at their job. But that doesn’t mean they can’t, and don’t, finish their work.

Writers get tired, too. It isn’t easy to put words to thoughts on a daily basis and do it well, too. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. It only means that we’re too bored or lazy to keep going. We just need to take a break and carry on. 

Calling it writer’s block is just a lame excuse for not sucking it up.

Every little counts

“Let’s crank it up a notch, shall we?”

Julie stared with silent horror and disgust. His eyebrows, build, and attitude left a sour aftertaste at the foot of her tongue which she swallowed with contempt. She couldn’t believe what she had got herself into.

“Go on, 20 more.”

Heaving off the floor where she’d sprawled after the first 30 pushups, Julie continued without complaint. Unable to see the results of her efforts, she wondered, huffing and puffing, if she should reconsider priorities.

Twelve months later, the gold meddle grazed against her heart.

At the gym, her coach prepared for the next round.

Agent of change

Change is undeniable. Whether it’s immediate, intermittent, or ironic, everyday things are changing every day.

Whether it’s adopting a new route to work, embracing a fresh lifestyle choice, or committing ourselves to a new opportunity, change brings consequences. While some of these changes are self-made and voluntary, some are sudden and downright surprising.

Regardless of how these changes come about, they’re transformational without doubt. They delve deep within us, affecting our inner being, stirring our spirit, and enabling us to showcase our best self.

Transformation is a symbol of new expectations. It brings along hope and a mind ready to take on new challenges. We become more self-reliant, confident, and excited at the prospect of a positive development.

That said, however, transformation can be scary too. Change is uncertain. And when we face such situations, inertia often engulfs us. We hesitate, ponder, and wonder if we are indeed in the right path. It may take some time, but we’ll recognise the goodness in change. Its unfamiliarity may take some getting used to, but once we do, it’s a smooth sail—making it favourable.

That’s why it often helps to change in manageable chunks. Bit by bit—or as Anne Lamott says bird by bird—we can make it a bigger, sustainable change. It’s like climbing a mountain—when we take one step a time, we’re more focussed and the task seems less overwhelming and daunting.

There’s no such thing as a bad transformation. In the long run, changes either alter our lives for the better or leave us with lessons. When nature throws an unwelcome change at us, when we’re least prepared, we feel scared. We wish we’d had some warning, a step-by-step approach so we would’ve got used to it. But life doesn’t always work the way we want. When it forces change upon us, we adapt and learn to live with it. It’s often not obvious, but as humans we are capable of stepping into a current flowing on the opposite direction and learn to swim with it.

Whether we choose it or nature chooses it for us, change affects everyone around us, too. Family, friends, acquaintances, neighbours, and even the prying, annoying, cousins once or twice removed. No matter what anyone says, though, our transformation is ours. If we can accept that, we can also help others accept and understand us. Some may decide to join us, but many won’t. Regardless, resisting change is unwise. Just as we want others to accept our changes, we should accept others’ change as well. By being compassionate and empathetic to others, we become a more evolved and mature human being.


As luminescence

amidst cave life — reflections