THE ART OF EMPATHY

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My first introduction to the majestic world of art was through poetry. The love affair with poetry began
at an early age. To me, it was a playground for words, a medium that invited the use of metaphors, rhymes
and other figures of speech that allow one’s imagination to roam. I loved its capability to unshackle my
mind and allow me to dwell in the parallel worlds that I would often catch glimpses of in my dreams.
Poetry introduced me to the world of art, which further introduced me to the beauty of expression.
 
As I grew older, my relationship with art took a dip. Distracted by the circumstances that came with the
transition into adulthood, I ended up neglecting my soul’s favourite food. This went on for a long time,
it was a strange and unexplainable period of silence and dormancy. Fortunately, this period eventually
passed, and my passion for art returned. I found myself attending poetry sessions, exhibitions, book
launches, theatre productions and other spaces of expression once again.  Most importantly, I went back
to expressing myself.
 
Nurturing my very own place as a creative has led to my enlightened observation of the relationship
between the creator and the audience. I once believed that creators were obliged to deliver
material that the audience could directly relate to. In hindsight, I realise what a distorted conviction this was.
It is in fact a conviction that cripples the appreciation of art, and can leave creators
despondent about delivering their craft.
 
People often prefer to give their attention and time to that which is most familiar to them, it is human
nature after all. However, one cannot approach someone else’s art with a selfish mind, if anything, someone
else’s craft is something that you should be prepared to step outside of yourself for. Creative expression
is not an act simply reserved for the observer. To expect this is to rob the creator of his/her liberation, furthermore,
it robs you of the opportunity to gain perspective and participate in an engagement that your
own mind may have never led you to.
 
Again, I was once guilty of this selfishness, expecting to receive my own story through someone else’s. It
is most likely one of the reasons that my relationship with art took a dip. I suppose it was hard for
me to appreciate other people’s voices during a time when I was trying to find my adult identity. Perhaps
I was just desperately seeking material that affirmed me at the time, so much so that I had no room for
anything else. Again, that’s just human nature.
 
Creators invite the audience into a sacred part of their world, the individuals that form part of the
audience are merely guests in that space. This is not to say we should devoid from all criticism, one is
entitled to dislike someone else’s piece of work. However, I do believe that the dislike should not be from
an egotistical place of disappointment that the artist did not tap into your own internalised life stories.
 
Grant yourself the blissful opportunity of experiencing other people’s narratives, if only for a moment. Open
your eyes to the window of perspective they have constructed. Most importantly, embrace their freedom to
express, a liberation that may just inspire you.   It cannot always be about what you know,
and when it is not, travel through the foreign territory.
 
I appreciate the opportunity to connect with other souls, no matter how far removed their material is from me. That’s
the magical thing about indulging in the expression of another, you don’t have to relate to their work
directly to appreciate its purpose.
 
What better way to learn empathy.

 
 

*Image externally sourced*

 
 
 

Published: 2016-06-23 - 11:50:57


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