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Music has been a big part of my life since I was a young boy, though my tastes have broadened a lot since I was first learning chords on my guitar. I love choral music, for instance. Morten Lauridsen’s “Agnus Dei” can bring me to tears.
Several months ago I was invited to attend a concert at Carnegie Hall, featuring not just the music of the composer Arvo Pärt, but Arvo Pärt himself. It was a one-of-a-kind night. The orchestra and choir played some of his most popular and enduring compositions. There were several moments when the music lifted me right out of myself.
I had similar moments on my recent sabbatical to Europe. Beside the natural beauty we experienced, Gail and I were struck by the architecture and museums.
Both of these experiences have reinforced my personal commitment to make room in my life for art. Over the years, I’ve found that nothing brings me more joy and better inspires my own creativity than good art.
One of the first times that I really became fully aware of art’s potential power was when I was managing a young musician. She had just written several songs for her new album and asked me and my business partner to listen to them.
I knew her, and knew that she was talented, but I cried when I heard those songs. It just hit me out of the blue. Art does that.
What Art Can Do for Us
In our pragmatic culture we usually see art as optional. We drill this into kids from an early age. We tell them to be practical and belittle their dreams because we can’t imagine how they’ll make any money pursuing them.
But the truth is, art is indispensable. Art gives us meaning. There are things that cannot be understood with pure reason—like love and beauty, to name two. Art helps us understand our world.
It does that because it helps us transcend our world. I said that listening to Arvo Pärt lifted me out of myself. Art has the power to point us to the divine, to the ultimate Artist. It doesn’t answer all the questions, but it can shine a light on questions we didn’t even know we had.
And art requires something of us. At the most basic level it can stir us to gratitude. But it can also awaken the creative imperative in us. As people, made in the image of our Creator, we have to do more than merely produce. We have to create, to express, to give life to the ideas inside us.
The cool thing is that creativity works like a muscle; the more we use it, the stronger it gets.
And here’s the good news: We don’t have to attend exclusive concerts and travel abroad to get more art in your life. Some of the most rewarding artistic moments I’ve ever had have been in my own living room or around a friend’s dinner table.