“Throw out the Artist”

This story I’m about to tell is around a year or two old. You see, my family was off on summer vacation, and I decided that it would be the perfect time to write a short story. The story was about a crew of space pirates, and it was honestly a lot of fun to write. It exceeded the short story page limit, getting up to twenty-something pages. The page limit, however, is not the important part of this story.

I had a large crew of unique and colorful space pirates. I figured it wouldn’t be a realistic story unless at least one of them was killed off, but I really liked all of them. What to do? Well, this is where the small army of siblings come in. I assigned each crew member to a common occupation, and then asked my brothers and sisters this question:

 “There is a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, an artist, and a pilot in a room. You have to throw one of them out of the room. Who do you throw out?”

A fairly simple question. I asked siblings whose ages ranged from early twenties, to the age of two. What happened next frustrated me to no end.

Each sibling I asked (if they cared to answer and were not distracted by the macaroni and cheese on their plate) had the same answer: “Throw out the artist.”

“Why?” I responded. “Why throw out the artist?”

“Well,” they would say. “If we need something fixed, then we could use the engineer. And if someone gets hurt, then we would need the doctor…”

“But nothing is broken, and no one is hurt,” I said. “Are you sure you want to throw him out?”

“I don’t know why, I would just throw out the artist. He just seems like the least useful person.”

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You may not know this, but before I realized I was fascinated with the English language, I wanted to be an artist. A concept artist, actually. That’s all done on the computers now, so the switch to writing wasn’t that hard to make. It’s hard as a kid to grow up and watch your dream jobs drop like flies and fade out of existence, but it’s also rough to see your siblings boot them out of a hypothetical room for an unknown reason.

I realize that drawing a picture may not be as important as a doctor, who can save lives, or an engineer, who I’ve heard can build a lot of bridges (that was a joke; I know they do a lot more than that, seriously). But actually, they may just be as important.

I don’t need to tell you that professional artists create beauty, as any kind of engineer does. They can also contribute to many different kinds of therapies, which certainly can save lives. Certainly keep that in mind, but that’s not where it stops.

I still draw. Many people told me I would starve to death (which is a great thing to tell a nine year old boy) if I continued to pursue art. Computers and programming is where the future lies, after all! No one gets paid from the pencil and paper anymore.

Let me tell you what I did instead of art, though. I went into writing. English! I love it! I have, actually, gotten more concerned faces from the study of English than art, however. Imagine that. There’s an English major in the room? Well, never mind. Keep the artist, but get rid of that useless waste of space! (I exaggerate, but only kind of). Family members tried to talk me out of it, and church members gave me concerned second glances. Now, I had already given up on one passion. Writing was not going to die like art did. Not a chance.

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That’s not even where it stops, though. Let me tell you about the minor I just added. That’s right. This writing major added a minor, which, theoretically, should help me get a job one day. What job relevant minor did I choose? Well, I decided to minor in Philosophy.

Now, I can see you face-palming, but hear me out.

Forget about English majors, because this world is the one that is starving. We’ve all artist3.jpgjumped on the science band wagon and think that it will take us all the way up to heaven. I’m sorry to say that we’ve got some pretty ugly times ahead if we keep thinking that. I’m not throwing science under the bus. It is needed, but it is not the exclusive need that we require. I’m a thinker. I talked about that last time. I can’t shake the feeling that I need to do something else other than the American drive. Will I get a job? Contrary to popular belief, there is a decent market for writing related jobs. I’ll be fine, but that’s not the point. My focus now is to learn, and build myself towards Christ. How should I do that? Well, I need to understand. That’s what Philosophy is. A drive to understand the hard questions. You will stress over getting a job, engineer to artist. One is statistically more profitable, absolutely. But if our artists disappear, what does that make us as a culture?

Here’s the big point. Follow the direction that God is pulling your heart towards. I know people who want to pursue music, teaching, construction, self-defense, being a pastor, and just about everything else and in-between. Their talents are beautiful, and needed. Essential, in fact. If America is to build itself back towards Christianity, then we need bold men and women who are willing to sacrifice a fancy car to show the nation how God wants these things to be done. That includes writing. That includes thinking. Yeah, I stress. I worry. But for some reason, I haven’t budged yet (and not for lack of trying).

God doesn’t say, “go forth and get rich, and don’t forget about that nice car.” Quite the contrary. That is not to say that God will not bless us with nice things, or plentiful riches. Some have that blessing, but it is not to be our main drive or goal. Whatever you are pursuing, check yourself. If it does not line up with furthering the Kingdom of God, and only in line with your own personal gain, give it some thought. This applies to the arts as well. You can go into writing for entirely selfish reasons. I’ve seen people go into the major because they think its easy (ha, that’s rich in of itself). Check yourself, and store treasures up in heaven. If you do that, then maybe we can keep a few of the next generation’s dream jobs from fading away for just a little while longer.

 

Matthew 6:31-32

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

Philippians 4:19-20

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Communication via Styrofoam Cup

I have trouble communicating. It’s not that I don’t know how I feel, or to properly articulate my thoughts, but the action of talking to someone is more complex than you’d think. At least, that’s what I’ve always found.

I had been recently been thinking about communication a few days back. I was thinking pretty hard about it, but I then realized something very ironic. I was pondering communication as I sat next to two very good friends, who were only a few feet away from me. You should talk to them! Well, I should have, yes. I hadn’t spoken to them in a fair while, and I don’t get to see old friend that often. But of course, I did not talk to my two very good friends. Instead, I thought about how I was unable to talk to them.

The irony of the situation urged me to quickly find an answer to my inability to have a conversation. I immediately grabbed the closet thing I could write with, and on. This was a pen, and a Styrofoam cup.

The two friends continued their conversation in the near vicinity, and I got to work processing my problem. I was absolutely determined to figure it out, so I took the cup and started to etch a chart onto its soft surface. All other sounds were drowned out, and I thought carefully about how language was conveyed from person to person, and why it would be so hard for me to participate in a seemingly simple act.

Now, I’m no COM 101 textbook, but here’s as far as the Styrofoam could get me. Language can be seen as split up into several different elements. Elements such as:

  • Subconscious

All language is dictated through our personal view on reality, and our previous interactions, even if you don’t know it. Your subconscious moves a lot of how the interaction could go, and is always constant in any use of language. It holds your quirks and preferences, making an accurate portrayal of yourself evident upon the act of communicating. Who you are, or who you think you are, will be portrayed when you get further along in the process of communication.

  • Non-Verbal

Non-verbal communication is also dictated by the subconscious, and is also constant. It’s hard to avoid it. Whether it is a shrug, particular expression, or the movement of an eyebrow, it communicates more than sometimes words can. Many times it can to directed through thought, and you consciously decide on how to portray yourself, but most often it happens without our realization.

  • Thought

Your conscious interactions will begin with thought. There can be careless words, or thoughtless actions, but in some way, shape, or form, your thoughts will precede your words. You will hold a subject in your mind, for example, and develop it as the conversation goes on. As you talk, images and emotions will be relayed to your mind, and then continue to develop as you prepare a response.

  • VerbalCup of Communication

Verbal communication is when the thoughts develop from the brain to the mouth as it moves in complicated ways to form each syllable to relay information. In other words: talking. It is our main way of interaction with one another, and is much more direct than most other forms. If you want to get to know someone, talk to them. Why? Because it requires both active thought, subconscious, and who their very person is. What makes a person who they are is required when they communicate. It’s just how we’re made. It’s why we are called to pray to God, and not just think about him. Both are important, but the relationship is far more intimate and personal when we open our mouths and speak.

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What’s the rose there for? Well, my mind drifted off, and roses are fun to draw. So there.

This is closely related to subconscious, but there is also the subject of incentive when communicating. What are you looking to get out of interacting with this person? Is it to laugh? To relay information? To have fellowship? To simply get by an awkward situation?

Incentive is important to recognize as you interact, as it can govern what is communicated at that certain point in time. You shouldn’t go off on a strange story telling spree if you’re in the middle of an Algebra class. The communication there requires a different intensive to talk.

You should probably take the Styrofoam charts above with a grain of salt, by the way. These thoughts are scattered, and some probably incorrect (It was about midnight after I had finished my thoughts, after all), but through all of it, I came to this conclusion:

I feel more comfortable in the ‘thinking’ stage, so that’s where I’ll often stay.

Relaying information feels like a certain kind of ‘strange’ for me, and I don’t always feel like I can appropriately express what I am thinking. My thoughts get ahead of me, go in different directions, and are about a hundred times more confident that my common amount of speech. Who I am (through subconscious and incentive) just doesn’t usually enjoy getting past the thinking process.

This is why I have always enjoyed writing, as I can clearly express what I am thinking on my own terms, and not under the ‘clock’ of a decent conversation’s length.

I talk. I enjoy talking. I am very glad God gave me a mouth to communicate with, but it’s not my strongest attribute. My struggle to verbally communicate is often frustrating, and so when two good friends are nearby, I may often just stay in thought.

Call it introverted, call it timid, call it intellectual. I don’t care what you call it. It is important to realize, however, that everyone excels at different kinds of communication. I know some people who can hold a whole conversation with only non-verbal. I know others who have to talk something out to properly think about it. We are all different, but all require the need to interact for one reason or another.

Is there a lesson here? Well, I think the take away is for you to decide on. I would recommend joining me in my thinking process (unless it makes you uncomfortable, as talking is often for me), and start to examine how people communicate with each other. How do you prefer to communicate? Knowing these things can really help you know yourself better, or just have an appreciation for just how different and special each person is according to God’s grand design.

That being said, however, you must realize that all forms of communication are essential. You can’t get through life without thinking, you can’t get through life without talking, and you can’t get through life without being honest with your subconscious and who you really are.

 

Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
       O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.