Sunday, November 20, 2011


I went on a long run yesterday, and as I have no earphones anymore, it's given me a lot of time to think/let my mind wander.  As I came up to a cross street a few blocks from my apartment, I saw a girl walking out of a store with some paints and brushes in a plastic bag, waiting for the light to change.  She was waiting for a moment where she could make art.

It got me thinking about what she was going to capture - what she was going to paint with those materials.  Was she going to paint a landscape?  Maybe something she saw on the metro the other day.  Perhaps it was the way the sun rose over her apartment, which was just begging to be captured.  To capture a moment in time.  And then, I realized that the main goal of any artist is to stop time.  To freeze, capture, construct, assemble, pare down, and/or rewrite a moment in time.  A small slice of their experience of life, frozen for all to see.

What does a painter do?  He sees something and recreates it, using as much time as he needs to recapture that one vision.  What does a musician do?  He searches for chords, progressions, and lyrics to capture an emotion, an idea.  What does an actor do?  He rehearses, reads, and searches for the perfect emotion to carry a scene.  What does a comedian do?  He searches for the perfect laugh in a given moment.  What does a writer do?  He crafts, searching for the right word to convey the idea of a piece to the rest of his readers.

Practically all art involves revision.  I don't know any great piece of art that wasn't toiled over, struggled with, and hated by the artist before eventually becoming whole.  Even just typing that last sentence, I had to revisit the phrasing multiple times before I let myself continue with this one.  To capture a moment, one must make many decisions.

In a way, sports are a form of art as well.  Scripted plays are drawn up, practiced, and hopefully executed to perfection when the moment is right.  High School and College football teams often talk about being "perfect", where their choices as a team have lead them to a season wherein they have taken control of every moment.  Their search for perfection is captured in stories, numbers, emotions, and highlight reels.

Finding my own unifying theory of art in 30 minutes?  Maybe running without headphones isn't such a bad idea after all.

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