Universal Connection Through the Artist’s Eyes

You may not find what you are looking for, but, if you remain open, what you find may be more interesting.

‘Marshmallow’ by Ana

When I look at my daughter’s artwork, it often occurs to me that what I see is not what she intended to create. Like two people looking up at the clouds and describing what they see, it is as if we are looking at two different paintings. When she tells me what she painted and I see something else, I have to make a choice.

I can either choose to see both what she sees and what I see, accepting that perhaps both are true, or I can choose to shut myself off to her perspective and only see what I want, not hearing her story or seeing the world through her eyes. The interesting thing is that seeing what she sees in her painting does not stop me from also seeing the painting from my own perspective. It is not an either/or proposition.

Being open to new perspectives or experiences is not subtractive. It takes nothing away from us. It is additive. It allows us to see things in a new way we never considered before, in addition to the way we already see things. We already have our own mind, our own opinion, and our own perspective. We do not need more of that. More of that is boring. It gives us nothing except confirmation.

The ability to be open enough to listen to others, see through their eyes, and feel what they feel, this is the only way for us to truly experience new ideas and possibilities, to experience a whole new we could have never imagined. Empathy is the gateway to universal connection and understanding.

“As in life, so too it is in budo. As in budo, so too it is in life.”

-Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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