Have you ever felt as though a piece of art changed you? Forever altered the way you see the world? It sounds idyllic, but I like to believe it’s true – not as an artist teaching, but as a student, constantly engaging with the many forms of expression I encounter each day. Today was one of those days that a work of art moved me.
I stumbled upon a YouTube video a friend posted on Facebook. It was a short documentary about the story of a 17-year-old boy living with terminal cancer. He was faced with months, maybe weeks to live – and so he did. Zach Sobiech turned to music as a means to say goodbye to all of his loved ones. Zach’s song “Clouds” has reached millions on Youtube, and is now available on iTunes.
“And we’ll go up, up, up
But I’ll fly a little higher
We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now
When I get back on land
Well I’ll never get my chance
Be ready to live and it’ll be ripped right out of my hands”
As I watched Zach tell his story (albeit through some tears), I started to wonder about the way in which we are all living. I also wondered about art’s place in this life. What if someone told you you had one year, or one month, or one week to live? What would you do with that time? Would you travel? Would you run a marathon? Would you write a song? Would you tell someone you loved them? Would you get married? Would you mend a friendship? Maybe you would paint a masterpiece. Or visit a renowned artwork in a foreign country.
“You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.” – Zach Sobiech
Perhaps we should change the question: What would you do, if you knew you could not fail? Would you run a marathon? Would you write a song? Would you tell someone you loved them? Would you paint a masterpiece?
Fear is what stops us from determining our greatness. Zach reached his family, and people everywhere with his music. It will go on forever, even if Zach cannot.
Millions of people are remembered today because of what they left behind – a little piece of them. Whether it be the ceramic decorated mosques of the Ilkhanids in the Middle East, the water lilies of Monet, the crooning of Frank Sinatra, or the forever relatable words of Dr. Theophrastus Seuss, we remember these icons for their art and their message.
So, the next time you contemplate drawing, or writing, or singing – be sure to do it. It’s sure to be extraordinary, and it’s bound to have an effect on another human.