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The Tinkered Mind
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January 8th, 2021
The sole purpose in life for many seems to be to find that purpose. This interminable cliche is reincarnated in all sorts of forms, whether it be one’s passion or mission. The painter seeks something elusive and new through forms on a blank canvas, the writer with words rearranged, the photographer with the uncaptured angle, the coder - a new trick for the machine. Everyone is trying to find some sort of art in life to get good at, something that somehow both inspires others and is inspiring to do.
The recipe for such a thing isn’t actually a secret, nor is it that difficult. Nearly any task we can do can be elevated to the level of an art if plied with enough consistency and fed enough time. Visit the canvas for hours every day and the hand is bound to hear the mind’s desires for form and line with more clarity as the days roll away. Continue for years and years and the admiration of others is nearly guaranteed by dint of compounding interest. Fascination is the experience tagged with the most envy. There is nothing more admired and desired than to be so engrossed in some facet of life that nothing else seems to matter. We engineer the experience falsely with all manner of intoxication and entertainment, often only to be given enough of a taste to realize what we must be missing. Many are left waiting for what seems to be missing to finally turn up. In reality, the task or medium doesn’t matter at all. The experience of fascination is the same no matter the object of passion. One need simply pick something, nearly anything and get curious in order for the universe to bloom. Attention is like that divine elixir that when applied consistently to some facet of reality creates a kind of life, as though within each pixel of life resides kaleidoscopic depths to be unlocked by simply looking with patience.
This is how opportunity abounds - abundant everywhere, if only we look. This is how creativity and resourcefulness are the same. Both aren’t simply a remix, but an expanding resolution of possibility using what already exists.
There is however one canvas that is distinct from all the other potential arts and crafts we might pick up and use to explore the wonders of what it means to be alive, and that’s living itself. The quintessential canvas is the moment: the very stuff of time and experience. The flimsy analogy is film: that is if our own life were the movie to be made an art. We might imagine the opportunity of welcoming someone else to experience our whole life as we each do, like a ride, and wonder whether the universe comes alive through our own eyes, or not - always shaded by the congestion of mindless pursuit..
Be we waking or in dream, each moment is a chance to evoke the beautiful, and often what’s on offer is far simpler and easier than some task plied at for long years. It doesn’t take much at all to realize the beauty of a single moment. In fact, it’s almost certainly a matter of getting much out of the way in order to see it.
Perhaps then, even the most mediocre looking life can be grander than the most sprawling adventure, if adventure is taken without a sense of the art being committed, and the mediocre life simply hides the person who is in fact paying deep attention to the moment.