Is meaning made or found?

The View from my Studio.

Is this is a question you have ever engaged? At times I have been absolutely convinced it’s made. Then I see or hear something that resonates with my soul in such a way that surely I have found meaning that exists for others and I feel it is found and only occasionally experienced. The search for meaning is surely the quest of musicians, writers, philosophers, and painters. Artists are lost without their art. Creative expression is the avenue to making meaning in a life that often seems nonsensical and superfluous. We are here, then we are not. And what was it all for? Art is an expression of inner knowing. Artists work to make the intangible tangible. It is a painful realization and paradoxically comforting at times to know that everything just continues on without us. An artist uses their creative means to express this devastating truth. “See truth” is the artists call. It exists with or without you. “See me” might also be the artists call as we are so acutely aware of our smallness.

The writer and psychologist Eric Maisel says artists must make their meaning because they seek understanding of a great and ever elusive meaning. This idea, and his book the Van Gogh Blues, was maybe the most empowering thing I have ever read. In addition, he gives suggestions for managing so many of the other anxieties that come with the pursuit of making art.

Meaning is the painful pursuit of the artist. While I may only find small bits of inner knowing in this life, it has been a powerful tool to make my meaning when I feel it’s painful absence.

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