Sounds pretentious, eh? Well it isn”t, really: the above title is a fragment from a citation.
W.H. Auden, the British poet, not really famous (I think?) but well respected by some of his fellow-writers (an example: Graham Greene, Nobel Prize for Literature) and by myself (I don’t count, but…) said:
“What answer to the meaning of existence should one require beyond the right to exercise one’s gifts?”
It sounds – and maybe it IS – simple. Still, not so simple after all… and not rarely simple things demand an enormous quantity of complicated skills and luck… I think drawing and painting, maybe a bit of writing too (but I’m pretty sure only about drawing and painting; photography is collateral…) are my gifts. I am – would be – very pleased to be able to exercise them and I do not demand more meaning than that…
But life is a complicated, messy thing and only the very lucky ones could do what should be, in a perfect society, the normal, the natural thing to do: exercise one’s gifts, in exchange for some food and some shelter… Maybe a functional car, too…
For about 6 -7 years now I’ve choosen to EXERCISE MY GIFTS (drawing, painting). That was – still is – MY “meaning of existence” (could be futile and vanity and chasing the wind… but then what isn’t? don’t tell me politics or making money or being famous because I will sneer…) Right now, at least for a while, I will have a meaningless existence: I will try to earn some money, to get a second job, etc.
But – as I always say to my French Nuns (whom I teach acrylics and watercolor only 8 h per week…) : “C’est pas grave!” (It’s not that bad?)
Finally, I was one of the lucky ones, having these 6 years and my 4 years of Art High School… Most people have a meaningless existence all their life (not that they want that, of course…)
This is a self portrait I draw when I was 17 years old, oh boy!
P.S. Paul Newman, one of my favourite actors, died. I hope he didn’t suffer too much… Remembering him (and Joan Woodward, his wife, and Orson Wells and Lee Remick…) in the Long Hot Summer makes me think, again, that “all is vanity and chasing the wind”. But then, there are some good moments too…