Have you ever really watched how a seahorse moves?
One of the most beautiful things about being an artist is that at some point you realise that you have this incredible knack for REALLY looking at things. I study everything – and most of the time I don’t even realise I’m doing it until afterwards when I realise I’ve been inspired. Earlier in the week I went over to Ireland to visit with my dad and my family. While we were there we took my nephews to an aquarium. As we stood near one of the giant tanks I felt my mood drop dramatically and I turned to my dad and told him how sad it was making me feel to see how clearly depressed many of the animals were. The giant turtle was repeatedly head-butting the wall and the sharkes all had this vacant look in their eyes as they slowly glided around in circles. Yet, in other tanks the colours and shapes of the various creatures were vibrant and interestering, puffer fish were truly beautiful and the way the seahorses moved was mesmerising.
I was constantly mentally kicking myself for not bringing my sketchbook. I was dying to capture their majesty except my camera was not doing it justice.
I noticed then (being the unabashedly deep thinker that I am) that the aquarium could be a total metaphor for human life and my dad completely agreed with me. For all of these radiant creatures when out in the wild are JUST like humans who are completely connected to their spirits. Following their intuition, soaring free, experiencing LIFE as it happens. Yet the animals trapped inside the tanks – well – they are just like the humans who are not connected, the ones who continue daily to struggle against the current, the ones who complain and moan about how the world is doing them no favours (and I’m not for a moment saying that the world is not harsh – TRUST ME – I know full well that it is and it can be – but when we are not connected we are just like the animals who live in captivity. We may be safe – but we are NOT truly experiencing life. We are still beautiful majestic creatures – but we are not truly free.
And although I loathed and detested seeing animals stuck in captivity – a terrible irony struck me – I’d probably have never have been able to see how them seahorses moved so magically without them having been in a tank. I heard myself justifying something I felt was unjustifiable – in some bizarre turn of events and probably because I always try to find some good in every situation I decided that perhaps those animals in captivity do serve a purpose – they teach us about the world that is out there. They remind us of the duality ever present in our world. They teach us about what humanity is doing with pollution and captivity and all of the other abject horrors we inflict on the earth yet also show us the poignant beauty that is ever present all around us – if we only take the time to really look.
My day in the aquarium reminded me that life is about living in balance. Learning to be content within this crazy thing we call a human life. Embrace the crap even if its hard to swallow and pretty ugly – it is what it is – yet if you can – do what you can to make the world a better place but NEVER forget to find and really enjoy the beauty.