I believe in treating everyday like a work of art. Does this mean I walk around with paintbrushes and spray cans and make a colorful mess over everything I come in close proximity with like a rainbow-gilded King Midas? That sounds pretty incredible actually, but would almost certainly hook me up with an orange jumpsuit and serial number. No, what I’m talking about is infinitely more practical but no less profound or audacious in its actualization. While some of us like to write, take pictures, paint, play music or dance to name a few, most of us relegate these activities to a confined space and time, usually when we’re alone and away from others. What I am proposing, however, is that we take these modes of artistic expression, or whatever creative outlet you prefer, and integrate them streaming-like into our everyday life with the intention of adding a brilliant vibrancy to you and the world you inhabit; to transform yourself into a mobile creative force that will undoubtedly influence others for the better.
I’m what some might call a “literary mad scientist” because I love–scratch that–am totally and utterly smitten with spoken language and the written word. I love to manipulate, enhance, and play with those geometrically diverse symbols known as letters and their subsequent sounds like the strings of an old guitar or an improperly labeled chemistry set. I’ll provide you with a simple yet eloquent example of how I use my artistic love for language in daily life: if someone asks the ubiquitous question, “what do you do?” a polite but inadequate substitute for “who are you?” or “how do you like to define yourself?” or “what ignites your soul?” most will respond with a bland summary of their “jobs” that does little to express their unique position and personalities, much less make your job sound particularly interesting. These unimaginative (and depressing) responses are a complete waste of the magnificent potential of language and your creative capabilities.
We have literally thousands upon thousands of words and expressions at our disposal, yet most of choose the most vague and basic to articulate our undeniably complex existence. Instead of using prosaic and vanilla responses, try a more vibrant substitute. For example: “I locate the supersonic pulse of the streets and orchestrate its chaos into order” to describe a civic engineer specializing in traffic; or “I take rich aromatic flavors from across the globe and blend them into delicious harmony” to describe a barista; “I nurture the spontaneous growth of ripe human potential through contagious knowledge” for a teacher; “I breathe life into inanimate code to create beautiful thinking intelligence” for computer programming. Now some of these may sound a little over-the-top, but metaphors and descriptive language are perfectly acceptable and prized on paper and the web…why must we limit our use of creative expression to these mediums alone? The only reason we don’t is because mainstream society has insidiously ostracized heightened artistic expression to exclusive realms so that they don’t interfere with the basic “functionality” of language.
It wasn’t until I saw a lecture by TED Talk speaker and author Seth Godin and read his book Lynchpin that I was inspired to put a more cohesive and functional philosophy to my linguistic love affair and expand it to other artistic mediums as well. I’ve done almost all of these myself below:
If you take pictures, keep your camera on you as much as possible and take pictures of everything and everyone on your walk to work, the grocery store, or significant other’s abode. Try and get the e-mails of random people you snap pictures of; not only is this a great way to meet new people and instigate potentially exciting adventures, but also because others are always intrigued by the spontaneous encapsulation of an unexpected moment of themselves and you could be unintentionally giving them a memory that might last them a lifetime. Wouldn’t it feel great to be that person? If carrying your camera around is too burdensome or sketchy, try to look at everything with a photographic eye instead and imagine the shots you would be taking—or better yet, conjure your inner child and pretend like you do have a camera and feel that invincibility of being behind a lens: jump up on statues, climb up ladders, run through crowds and wonder at exquisite horizons. The world is your playground.
Painting / Drawing
Graffiti is an obvious but risky representation of what I’m talking about (I am a HUGE admirer of Graffiti Art for the record though), but there are certainly safer alternatives. Carry a drawing pad or notebook around and sketch whatever you see, even the mundane things. Alter or enhance the appearances of the ordinary to make your world a wonder. If riding the subway, sketch a portrait of your fellow travelers and give it to them before you or they depart as a gift. Who knows if they’ll love or hate it, but the point is that you’ve now created an artistic connection with the things and people around you, thus giving your daily life a whole new depth of meaning.
If you play an easily transportable instrument, go play it on the street, sidewalk, or any other crowded place just for fun, without any intention of earning money or worrying about how people will judge you. If you do take public transportation, find a rhythm somewhere in your head or in the rotation of the wheels, the screeches of the track, the clang of the concrete jungle outside, and just pour out your soul in song or rhyme. Don’t even think about people’s reactions if that bothers you. Hum or sing answers to someone’s questions and watch their expression light up with unexpected surprise and certain joy. Don’t just let people hear you, let them feel you. Likewise, literally “sing your praises” for someone who’s done something you admire. An artistic, emotionally invested gift like that can mean so much more than any material one purchased.
This one’s easy: dance your heart out anywhere and everywhere! There is no particular space, there is no allotted time, and there is no conduct of propriety that should limit the jubilant vibrations of your body. Do the moonwalk across a cross walk, make a lamppost an object of rhythmic reinterpretation, or sway your hips to some funky elevator music; salsa with a Stop Sign, Tango with a tetherball, or break dance beneath a building.
The deeper purpose thriving beneath these examples (and there are so many more) is to be fearless in your approach to making everything in life an opportunity to express yourself creatively, to make your surroundings a streaming canvas so that you don’t have to pause or miss a thing by isolating yourself from the world in order to create art; to rebel against stifling rules and regulations of social propriety, and to infuse the world around you with a spirit and energy that will draw others towards you. Don’t be afraid to sound stupid or make a mistake because you definitely will at first, and don’t be afraid to look weird because hey—weird is just a loaded word for unique anyways—but soon you’ll observe how your own unique brand of brilliance and creativity has inspired others too.