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Art Is My Cocaine

It’s the perfect pick-me-up and therapy.

15/09/2017 11:55 AM IST | Updated 15/09/2017 11:55 AM IST
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Art is my cocaine...

Would it be too wrong to say that?

I don't do drugs. And I have never done. And I probably never will. But can "art" be my drug?

I ask myself this question every now and then. Why do people do drugs and get addicted? I will never know how exactly they feel... when they snort cocaine with a rolled up paper or inject it into their bloodstream. I can only say what I have read in articles and or what I've heard from people who have taken drugs. Most speak of how much drugs relax them. One person said, "It feels you are flying and there is no ground beneath you," "I feel happy and rewarded," "I feel confidant and energised."

It's hard to even say this—"art is my cocaine"— to Indians. It comes as a shock, suddenly a red flag flickers in their eyes...

I will be honest here—I feel the same way while creating a drawing or painting, or when I talk about art, or even think about a creative project.

"You want to try cocaine? Hell no! Your first time can be your last if you're not careful!"

I am not ready to die yet, there is just so much to do! And hearing those words stop the "inquisitive" me from ever trying cocaine. And it is at that very moment that I make art come closer and closer to me. It makes me feel there is no ground beneath me. It makes me feel there aren't walls or borders to break and cross over. The pulsating heart and the energised mood—I am already able to see how my next book will look like, or how I am going to curate the next art exhibition. I feel like I just want to do it. Whether I sell the paintings or not, whether I get good reviews or not, the point is to do it, put my entire mind, body and soul into that one thing—and make it happen!

It's hard to even say this—"art is my cocaine"— to Indians. It comes as a shock, suddenly a red flag flickers in their eyes, because I am Indian-born woman, and cannot and should not even think of the word "cocaine"; I should act as if the word does not exist in my dictionary.

I guess people fail to understand the metaphorical implication that I try to bring in that statement. It is about passion towards any work that actually comforts you. And that is what we all should be focusing at. Whether it cooking a meal, or going on a family picnic, or getting ready for the most boring job you may have or wiping the smelly bum of an infant who poops five times a day! I feel activities like these are done with utmost dedication, there are sweet fruits of your labour waiting for you in one way or the other.

Art is a beautiful drug that comes wrapped and glazed with passion and dedication. Take it every day to take you away from the worldly clutter that surrounds you.

My point is that dedication towards any work can help bring you to a successful path in life. From finding happiness in the smallest achievements to making clients laugh in the most serious office meetings, the drug—passion and dedication—can help you feel light, happy, energised in the toughest situations in life.

Many countries across the world, including India, have rehabilitation programmes for prison inmates to give them a second chance in life through art and make their focus shift from criminal pursuits to skills that can allow them to earn a decent living. How cool is that!

I have spent 10 years away from India and in those 10 years I have not seen a single college or institution actually teaching art therapy as a postgraduate-level course. It may exist in some institutions as a certificate course, but we need to raise the bar to a much higher level of education. We need to knock on those bureaucratic doors of the University Grants Commission in India and try to bring a change at the university level and introduce art therapy as a formal practice that actually holds substantive relevance in today's crazy world.

My point is that art is an amazing and indispensible panacea. It can play a key role in assuaging psychiatric problems and substance abuse, facilitating medical rehabilitation and providing succor to everyone from the homeless to those who are survivors of abuse.

Art is a beautiful drug that comes wrapped and glazed with passion and dedication. Take it every day to make your life simple and interesting and to take you away from the worldly clutter that surrounds you. It's calming to those who are anxious and energizing to those who are stuck in monotony. It works.

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