I don’t have a fancy story to how I became an artist. I’m still struggling with calling myself one. I’m more of an accidental artist if anything. I was never drawn to crayons as a kid. I didn’t really bring home drawings for my mother to put on the fridge. I couldn’t even pass the elementary exam (which I hear everyone has in my lifetime!) My friend would complete the drawings in my journal on our way to college. Well, the gist is, I was bad at art and failing the drawing classes in school didn’t really make me a fan of art either. But it was alright, since it didn’t really matter; Art wasn’t really given any importance, it wasn’t like its science or math (that I was also bad at, still am!) So once the journals were marked, I moved on from the last sketch I had to draw and I pretty much forgot about it. Life continued with its mundane pace and my unambitious self didn’t care.
In a few years life caught on, the characters in the books I was reading for my literature degree started to haunt me. They were all struggling to make the world better for themselves. They were asking questions I didn’t know existed. And so, the morning chai turned into brain storming session every day. To find answers to what was being asked in the heavy library books. Answers to those led to questions about existence, about purpose and these answers were not in a single book prescribed in the syllabus. So, my naïve self decided to travel. Not to find answers, but to avoid them rather. But that trip gave answers to questions I didn’t even know I have.
I was in the mountains for the first time. Little did I know that this was going to change my life. I was following a trail munching some uncle chips, which led to a monastery. As a typical tourist we walked around and clicked some pictures. I hadn’t been to such a quiet place ever. The silence was almost deafening and in it, I could no longer ignore the questions. Maybe the wind got thinner or
maybe those questions started to choke me and I found tears rolling down my eyes. There was a monk there to collect a grocery list from the disciples who were observing the vow of silence and he noticed me. He then came and sat next to me but didn’t really say anything. I looked at him and gave half a smile and turned my gaze towards the mountains.
A few minutes later I don’t know how or why but I was sobbing like a child and started talking to him; I asked him why I cannot breathe. Without saying a word, he asked me to follow him. He led me to a room full of young monks working on something. One of the monks walked up to us and gave me a brush and instructed me to join them in filling colors into the circles they were all painting. I did as told and I never realized when I stopped crying and when it was way past an hour. I asked him what it was but all he did was smile. As a got up to leave, I couldn’t stop smiling. I bowed to the monk, I really just wanted to give him a hug but that was clearly not the right thing to do.
I walked away, the smile still on my face. The rest of the trip went away as any other and I was back in the city the next week. I came back and brought a sketch book and some paints. Every night when I started to choke, I would draw circles and fill them with paint. I learnt upon research; the circles at the monastery were called mandalas. That day on I spent every waking hour trying to learn to draw them. It was my happy place. They looked really bad, since I had no formal training in art neither did, I know any basics. But I was happy. I think that was the first time I was truly happy as an adult.
Happy in an unconditional way, which to be honest I didn’t even know existed.
In the years to come I would wait for the weekend to paint all day, to live in the true sense of the word, to breathe and to smile. And five years later, here I am!
Why am I blabbering about my life like I’m some celebrity you ask? I’m not self-absorbed I promise! I understand I’m not important but art is. What art did to me is! It has given me life and it has given me purpose. I’m still on the journey to recovery but I want to take you with me. From being depressed and aimless, I’m working for myself having turned a little hobby into my career and being happy.
Art helped me find meaning and I know I’m not alone. So, through these blogs I want to take you through this journey of healing and hope. Of how art can truly save your life!