I have always thought of myself as a diehard scientist. Yet, the older I get, the more often I ask, “What’s the point of all this, exactly?” And I find that the only things that quench, temporarily, this existential angst are works of art. Hearing a beautiful piece of music, seeing a really good movie, reading a well-written novel… These give me great joy. Expressing myself in creative ways is also deeply satisfying. Drawing or writing something that never existed before, even it it’s not very good, feels great nonetheless.
The older I get, the more appreciation I gain for the arts and humanities. The human experience is incomplete without them. I have less of a need to be entertained and more to be really… Moved, I suppose. I finally seem to understand why it’s mostly older folks viewing the screenings of independent movies or going to the symphony here. Sure, they have more money than the younger people… But perhaps it’s also that they have a deeper appreciation for art as a genuine way for humans to connect with the world around them.
In a discussion a little while ago, someone brought up that religion serves this purpose for some people. I am not religious, and I don’t think a deity in necessary to treat midlife angst. What I need is a way to connect with other people through the activities that bring about something new and beautiful.
Eldest has become really good at playing his instrument. I am really proud of him: he just won a top state-level award for a solo. As I drive him around to play with his class mates, I get to see how making music together bonds people of different ages and backgrounds. Making something beautiful together.
Below is a beautifully written short book I read recently, Binti. Nnedi Okorafor is a renowned sci-fi author; this was the first book of hers I read and I am looking forward to more.
Go and enjoy something beautiful. Go and create something beautiful.