Art reveals the soul of a society.
It reveals what a society values and believes.
It transcends the day-to-day ordering of tasks, duties, and responsibilities to reveal the inner light of our lives. It puts all we do in context.
My recent life has felt like task after task after task. I have been working on self-improvement lately, and there are many good tasks to do: exercise; monitoring what I eat; going to counseling, chiropractic, or wellness appointments; reading books on writing code, meditation, or professional development. These are good things, but my heart is empty and my depression has been spiking. I have lost my ability to see beyond the tasks.
The philosopher Josef Pieper writes in Only the Lover Sings that “Festive reality is made possible only through the arts.” Art helps us to see a deeper reality, one beyond the empirical world of day-to-day tasks. Put another way, there are two ways I approach video games. The first is to work on developing my character. This method is to figure out the systems by which I make my character stronger and better able to navigate the game world. In gaming jargon, this is called “grinding.”
The second way I approach games is to lose myself in the story. I look for the deeper themes and ideas that the writers and developers attempted to explore. I look for meaning in the story.
Grinding can be fun, but sometimes I need to experience the story to maintain my interest and excitement about the game.
For quite a while, my life has felt devoted to grinding, not to story. Being disconnected from story has caused me to struggle to find meaning in the day-to-day grind.
To help with this, I have started meditating. I try to take time each day to still my mind, to breathe and try to not think. I have had to give myself permission to do nothing. I don’t have to track every moment of my day. Indeed, I need, from time to time, to have days where it is okay to not produce something.
It is okay to be still. It is okay to not multitask while listening to music. It is okay to lose myself in stories that resonate deeply with me.
And I hope, in these moments of stillness and through art, I learn to see God more clearly. I hope to develop a stronger connection to Him after a particularly long and lonely darkness.