The Gift

The following conversation took place last night between me and a friend of mine, Elizabeth Bennett (name changed for the purpose of this article):

Me       : “You’re not much of a music freak, are you?”

E.B.     : “I am… Or at least I used to be. Now I’m bound by my limited data plans”

Me       : “Dear, if you have to use YouTube to listen to music, you’re not much of a music freak.”

E.B.     : (sighs, probably) “Okay then, maybe I’m not.”

Me       : “Hey, it’s alright! All of us are freaks, but of different nature.”

E.B.     : “Is that right?”

Me       : “Yeah, I have an obsession towards songs, while you have an obsession towards literature. I could never read books the way you do. And probably, you wouldn’t care for storing 20,000 songs on your computer’s hard drive.”

This whole conversation got me thinking. We all really are freaks, aren’t we? And I mean freaks in a good sense. Like the wonderful obsession we have over certain things. Songs, books, photography, painting, dancing, guitar etc. Now, you’d be wondering why do I use the word freaks and why not passionate or hobbyists. Well, because those words sound very resume-ish. They don’t aptly describe the kind of dedication and madness I’m talking about.  I mean, we like to be the master of these things. We want that we should know everything there is to know about them. We read obscure blogs, visit exhibitions no one else would go with us to, buy insanely expensive stuff that even though has a marginally incremental utility, but we would feel incomplete without them and the likes of it.

But I realized that all these things have one thing in common. Art. All these passionate obsessions revolve around art. Art makes us the freaks we are. And remember, I’m talking about the good kind of freaks here. I think it is only art that allows us the opportunity to do something extraordinarily well in its absolute sense. Let me elaborate. Consider a guy who works on an assembly line. He has been given certain set of instructions to perform. The paradigm of his performance in confined in the gambit of those instructions. Any other person can also read those instructions and perform the same action within a reasonable degree of acceptance. Now consider an artist, any artist. He has got myriad ways in which he can explore the depth and breadth of a particular art form. He can create, imitate, rework, adapt and still produce something amazing. And no one can say that a particular piece of art is better than another. Each is wonderful in its own. There are no standard operating procedures to do something.

Such abstraction is a gift that art has given mankind. And what a wonderful gift it is – for each individual to be extraordinary.  They are the ones who run this world, who excel, who succeed – the freaks or as Steve Jobs called them – the misfits, the square pegs in round holes. Whenever a freak has been successful of transforming any mechanical thing into an art, he/she has succeeded not only in his/her own, individual sense but also given the chance to others who practice the same thing to do wonders with it. Steve Jobs took the mechanics of making phones and made it into an art and thereby became a global phenomenon. Brandon Stanton, the Humans of New York guy, the man responsible behind making celebrities out of common people, took story telling through pictures to a whole new level. Salvador Dali, Coco Chanel, Shakespeare, Pele, Picasso, Anne Leibovitz, Sachin Tendulkar and many more – these men and women changed the course of their fields in ways that inspired hundreds and thousands and millions. And I think the only reason why your and my name is not in that list is probably we are not devoted freakishly enough to what we love to do. But, there’s always a new dawn.

Go. Be a freak!

P.S.: By the way, if you’re still wondering, my friend asked me to replace her name with a pseudonym and since she’s a reading ‘freak’, she asked me to use the name Elizabeth Bennett (neé Darcy),  from Pride and Prejudice. See, I told you; freaks always surprise and amaze you in myriad ways. 🙂



2 thoughts on “The Gift

  1. Only yesterday was I talking to a friend of mine about such stuff late into the night. About left brain and right brain. Business and Art. Being a corporate sellout and doing what you love. About the inherent need for honesty and empathy in art and of self-interest and to some extent manipulation in business. And the satisfaction or the lack of it one feels in either case. And she’s an editor at penguin btw. Can’t believe the co-incidence of reading this one day later 😀

    1. Actually, I didn’t put it as a comparison against business and the left brain. I used that comparison merely to highlight that art has a whole new paradigm. In fact, I specifically gave the example of Steve Jobs who, even though ran a corporate entity, still managed to be an ‘artist’.

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