What If We Choose for Life to Be a Piece of Art?
A couple of years ago, a friend and I sat down in a tranquil bar in La Paz.
We had been running around town, taking in its splendor and imperfections. Tasting its high-altitude air and vibe. The sound of progressive rock and a random collection of Lana del Rey tunes welcomed us into the small vintage-looking venue.
As we rested our feet — sipping on some well-earned drinks — the song Gods and Monsters came on. I have always found the lyrics of that song quite dark, but there is one short, less gloomy line that always stands out to me. Life imitates art. While the question whether life imitates art is not unique, the song planted the idea in my mind. And it’s been there ever since.
When I think of what makes me feel good in life, a lot of what I answer falls in the category of art. The sound of music, the power of composition, literature and genius plots.
Sometimes my soul is touched by what I see in museums or in a theater. Witty comedians who have the gift of highlighting absurdities in seemingly normal situations. Clever wordplay, silly nuances, absurd stories. Creating delicious meals out of otherwise plain ingredients, using small tricks to make the bland superb.
All of these could be considered art or forms of creation. They make the mundane reality we call daily life more enjoyable.
Or perhaps, they make what we believe society considers to be an acceptable life more bearable. A society in which we all follow the path laid out for us by previous generations and leaders that we endorse directly or indirectly. A path which isn’t widely questioned because surely it is the only way. Sometimes that feels to me like a trap that leads us away from truly living outside the box.
What if we broke those chains and choose for life to be a piece of art?
The canvas of a painter is blank until the process of creation commences. Similarly, an empty page in a notebook faces no constraints. It can be taken in any direction. A pen can write an account of what we see out there. The ups and downs of society, its challenges, its strife and success. Stories of mere mortals who left an impression on their surroundings.
Yet, there also is the possibility to write something else entirely. Something that doesn’t tangibly exist. To create a narrative set in a world that differs vastly from our own, or a tale that takes place in a slightly enhanced version of today’s reality. The pen can be driven by reality or imagination.
The canvas of life isn’t blank, and it’s impossible to fully redraw the world in which we are born. Yet, it is certainly possible to look at its absurdities and unexpected beauty with the eyes of an artist. To detect its imperfections and find ways to transform them. When I close my eyes, doing just that is what my heart dictates.
When I close my eyes, I see myself traveling. Across the globe, across the city. I see myself move from the known into the unknown to satisfy an ever-expanding craving for new experiences and meetings.
I see myself cook for people I love, host dinners for old and new friends. Be inspired by the stories they tell, the insights they share and the authenticity they bring to the table. A house with an open door. A beating heart in the middle of the city I love, but that alienates so many.
I don’t need to prove that I can live in the system. I don’t need to prove that I can be a perfect prisoner of society even though the feeling of being caged feels poisonous. All I need to do is to follow my heart and let life imitate art.
Elisabeth ten Cate is a 20-something-year-old writer. Five years ago, she moved across the pond to cross three things off her bucket list: living in London, studying philosophy, and truly mastering a foreign language. Today she finds herself at work in the screen industry whilst trying to chase her greatest dream of all: to be a published novelist. She’s a keen cook and regular host of dinners. She enjoys yoga, live music, salsa and bachata. You could contact her via her website.