The spirit that resides in this body longs to create. It draws its inspiration from an unseen hand that pervades the universe.
A Heart That Longs to Sing
Earlier today, I returned to Funan Mall where I first learnt to play the piano some fifteen years ago. The teacher who taught me is no longer there–but that was no matter, I wasn’t keen on seeing him. I was in secondary school when I started playing the piano. Initially, I got into it to play my favourite tunes. I loved ballads growing up–love songs that came from the depths of the soul.
My lessons did nothing to inspire my love for music. All I did was learn theories, and play the same songs (that I didn’t even like) over and over again to pass difficult exams. I passed the exams and learnt next to nothing about music. Even at the age of fifteen, my piano teacher said I was too old to learn music. To think I thought I was going to live till ninety! Not having any support at home to pursue anything creative didn’t help either.
Hearts That Long to Sing
Artists are often portrayed as whimsical, otherworldly beings who are out of touch with reality, but speak to any artist–be it a musician, painter, designer or writer–and they will tell you how many years it took to gain a solid understanding in the field. It is hard work. And there are no shortcuts. There is a lot of studying to do to learn all the techniques. And as an artist, mastering the techniques isn’t enough. You then have to create new techniques or reimagine old traditions for it to be considered original nuanced work.
And even then, you haven’t the slightest idea if you will be appreciated during your life or posthumously. Many artists pass away long before anyone appreciates their work. And don’t even get me started on plagiarism and giving due credit. Sometimes, we don’t even know who created it!
For instance, The Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible is often credited to King Solomon–although we really have no idea who wrote it. It is a collection of love poems spoken alternately by a man and a woman. There is no coherent story in the book. Over the millennia, The Song of Songs has been interpreted in a variety of ways–from allegorical to dramatic to cultic and literal. With no author to enlighten us, we muse on what it must mean whilst forsaking the artists that live amongst us.
Each artist’s work is as unique as a fingerprint. Having led a creative team for the past four months now, I know they each have their own unique voice. They have a style that cannot be duplicated or replicated. Sure, I can see the influences that have shaped and inspired them–but they’ve still got a spark that is uniquely theirs.
And yet, it is their spirit that touches mine as I read their words–the same way it is my spirit that touches theirs when they read mine. It is that unseen hand in the universe that brings us together to create.
Guidance from an Unseen Hand
I know now that no creation comes into this world in a vacuum. Every creative needs a team to bring their vision to life. This comes in the guise of teachers, editors, mentors, co-creators, benefactors, investors and so on and so forth. It may well begin with the spark that resides in your soul–but that is just the beginning.
With the creative industries being as risky as they are, I often find myself dealing with self-doubt. A lot of it comes from outside, and a lot of it comes from within. People often ask me what keeps me going when I can’t see any real reward in sight. After all, as creatives it is not a simple equation of going to work each day and bringing home a set pay check–although I am perfectly capable of doing that, too–thank you for enquiring on my well-being.
What propels me forward is the spirit that resides inside my body that longs to create. And what keeps me going is a belief in the unseen hand that pervades the universe.
I trust that unseen hand. I trust that it will send me the right companions when the time is right. I trust that I am assisted by the universe. I trust that the path my heart sets me on is the right one. I trust that time will reveal all truths. And lastly, I trust that I am but a fragment of something greater than myself.
With that firm truth, I know that no artist is ever truly alone in their endeavours.