If I offered you a blank sheet of paper and a box of crayons, asking you to draw something, what would it be?
I know this sounds irrelevant and somewhat stupid. It’s just a drawing, who cares?
Well, I do.
Because when given serious thought, this question doesn’t remain as futile as it sounds. Asking about your choices when given authority over a blank canvas, is a specific way of asking how would you choose to express yourself when given the power, opportunity and the freedom to do so.
Creation is, in a vague, yet, a very real and powerful sense, synonymous to expression.
Often while I write fiction (or attempt to write fiction, I should say), it turns out to be the manifestation of my own fears, curiosities and fascinations. We can’t help but pour ourselves into what we create. Art is more often than not, the artist’s own reflection.
So, tell me, what would you draw?
Personally, I couldn’t decide. It isn’t because I have issues expressing myself (something you would know about if you are reading my blog!), but because I have invented a more contemplative version of the question. Here it is:
If I offered you a blank sheet of paper and a box of crayons, asking you to draw something under the condition that this drawing will be the last thing you’ll do in your life, what would you draw?
(I know it sounds like I’m about to kill you or something, but no. Ignore that. Stick to the point.)
Now, the question involves some serious thinking.
We all want to be remembered.
To be remembered, is certainly an item on everyone’s bucket list (in most cases, could be in the subconscious). We all expect love and appreciation from others and being remembered for something good is an assured ticket for getting both.
We strive to transcend life because it seems finite and meaningless. Somewhere deep within, we know for certain that beyond a point in time, we would cease to exist. We may not acknowledge this more often, but this subconsciously known truth inspires us to create something that may outlive us, something good, something that is worth remembering. Doing so is our way of keep our lives from becoming utterly futile. If nothing good comes out of us, our lives would lose their meaning and we become equivalent to the non-existent. (‘Why we fear our life’s futility’ is something I have saved for another post, so stick around if you want to find out.)
Aforesaid, life is finite and meaningless. Look at the universe, it is 13.9 billion years old and probably infinite in it’s stretch (of which we aren’t sure of) and we are mere humans on a grain of dust suspended in space around a sphere of plasma. From this ‘non-human’ frame of reference, our lives mean nothing. But we are selectively hardwired by nature and evolution to create meaning into our lives.
Okay, I’m getting side-tracked. The point is:
We all would like to be remembered: which is what makes our last drawing special.
When someone utters their last words, we often try to preserve them, believing that they will help us relate to the person once they are gone. We might be subjected to death and decay, but our last words, and in this case, our last piece of art becomes immortal in the memories of the people who love or admire us. The world may forget who we are or what we do but they will always remember our last ‘something’. This means that once we are gone, our last ‘something’ is likely to remain as our final description left, our final reminder.
But most of us will be forgotten.
Being able to speak/write something significant and personal on one’s deathbed, or in a broader sense, being able to meaningfully express oneself before one dies, in my opinion, is the best way to transcend life. But most of us won’t be fortunate enough to be able to do so.
Einstein couldn’t. His last words were in German, spoken to a nurse who only knew English. His final words remain lost, forever.
Most of us will be certainly forgotten; unless we become the president, the first person to land on mars or manage to do something equally important, people wouldn’t have any reason to remember us.
This raises an unpalatable feeling of disappointment and hopelessness.
This is why I wish all of us could make a crayon drawing before we died.
I know a simple drawing won’t make much of a difference, but you would agree if I said that it would be better to die with than without it.
If this were possible, then, the last drawing would help us preserve some pieces of the people we love, and would help the ones who love us do the same when we wouldn’t be around.
I wish everyone had a final chance to draw, before embracing the infinite nothingness that awaits us or before going to heaven (believe whatever you want, my point is concrete.)
So, let us assume we could.
Assume, that there exists a universal rule that compels us to draw something right before our death. This drawing is then recognized as our last work. (I know it sounds way too imaginative and stupid, but consider it for a while.)
Although our assumption sounds like a great opportunity based on what we discussed earlier, it isn’t satisfying enough.
It is because of the simple reason that humans are complicated. We perceive, experience and define the world in our unique ways, while undergoing constant transition and growth. It may not be always plausible for us to fully describe ourselves in a given moment of time. Any attempts to do so, especially on a two-dimensional piece of paper, using finite shades of colors will surely be futile.
My point being, a crayon drawing can never be complex enough to be able to fully describe a human being.
There must be something greater than a crayon-drawing.
Something more complex, more dynamic, something that has greater opportunities and more dimensions to it. Something wide enough to contain the entire expression of a human being in itself.
I wish something like this was real.
But wait, may be it is!
The drawing’s meaning.
It’s a four letter word that begins with ‘L ‘and ends with ‘E’.
Did you get it?
No, it isn’t Love.
It is Life.
Yes, Life itself!
When you employ your brain to think about this, you notice that living isn’t much different from drawing.
It involves considering and creatively using your colours/crayons (your talents, desires and other unique qualities) for transforming a blank canvas (the present) into a master-piece (the future we hope for).
You can’t be passive while painting, or make dull strokes of grey all over your canvas just as much as you can’t be repetitive and predictable while creating your master piece. Doing so won’t let you create the kind of art you would like to be remembered for.
Same is the case with life – we can’t just zombie-walk through it. Neither can we allow ourselves to get stuck in some predictable, monotonous routine for years. Doing so won’t let us create a life we would love to live and be cherished for.
We are, as interested, in creating something meaningful out of our lives, as ignorant towards the opportunities that let us do the same.
Life will always be a blank canvas, and not just a blank canvas but The Blank Canvas: the best one we can get our hands on. And no matter what your circumstances may be, independent of what you may choose to believe, you are always equipped with enough crayons to create your own master piece.
Life is our canvas and we all have the crayons we could ever ask for, so go out there and draw something.
Create something you would be proud of, something that is good, something that the world needs, something that qualifies to be called as your master piece, something you would be remembered for.
Let me ask you the stupid, irrelevant question again.
When given the chance,
What would you draw?
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