These are the last days of my childhood, and since I’m 22, that’s a weird statement to type.
I’ve been a student since I was six years old, which makes it one of my longest standing identities, but as of this Saturday, that’s about to change. Graduation is coming, and with it shatters the protective barrier that academia has provided between me and the real world. I feel like Superman being shot off of my home planet into a strange new world, only instead of being granted super powers I’m left only with the thought thatÂ I should’ve learned something. My uncle asked me the other day what skills I’d actually learned from my time at U of M, and since I’m graduating with a double major in English and Creative Writing, I told him that what I know is how to bullshit in spoken word and in written (and if you’ve been reading my poems on here than you know all about that ((or do you, who knows, now I can’t be trusted muwahaha (((are there better things in life to aspire to than being an unreliable narrator?)))))).
I’m not proud of what I just did with those parentheses.
What does any of that have to do with art though? That’s a great question, one that I’m hopefully weaving my way towards an answer to at the same rate that you’re reading along with this post. I guess the thing about being a student that really matters is not what you learn from your classes or writing essays, but what you learn about what it means to be a student. I’m not talking about figuring out how to calculate how many espresso shots it’s going to take to write that last 8-9 page essay that’s standing between you and a cap and gown, but what being a student really is–and I’m going to assert that it’s not as much an identity as a mindset.
Being a student isn’t about what you learn, it’s about being a seeker of truth who is open to knowledge from all sorts of sources. Sure I might be leaving the university world of burritos and books written about articles written about things that were written about people who died a long, long time ago, but why in the hell would that mean I’m no longer a student? Sure it’s cheesy, but what’s wrong with being a student of life?
Nevertheless, where does the art come in? And I guess my only answer to that question is how should I know?
Okay, that’s not exactly true because my other answer is this: if art is the process of gathering up all these crazy things that appear to be separate and then putting them all together (be it on canvas, a marble slab, a sheet of paper, etc…) in such a way as to reveal that they’re not actually separate at all, then art is absolutely about learning. When we look at art, we are students to a lesson in perspective shifting the way tectonic plates form new landmasses, only these continents are cranial and the eruptions are expressions of a soul that everybody shares! Art is about beauty and about passion, but it’s the learning of these that allows for their celebration and understanding only ever fleeting at the periphery of perception, consciousness only ever condescending for a moment to lower itself into the stars of the cosmos.
That’s what I’m going to follow, or at least to try–those split second snapshots of reality through the constant illusions of my own limited perception. Because that’s what art is about (or what I’m choosing for it to be about for me) and what life is about (same disclaimer) and what being a student is about (no qualifier this time, deal with it). So these might be the last days of my childhood, but I’ll spend all the rest of the ones allotted to me as a student.