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Art is helping me heal in Lebanon

Christiane Waked
Filed on July 2, 2020

A majority of Lebanese are feeling stuck at the moment, unsure of how to break free from the shackles of problems that plague life in the country

Living in a country like Lebanon, where corrupt politicians have brought more woes to the population than solutions, I feel frustrated time and again, and write frequently on the state of the Lebanese economy, hoping things would change sooner than later. But the situation is getting worse, living standards are deteriorating and people are starving.
This month, however, I am consciously looking at some other aspects of life. I am looking at all kinds of arts - music, poetry, movies, paintings that provide peace to my mind.
Besides nature, only art can save us from the brutality of life. American writer, Thomas Merton, put it succinctly: "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." Art is a constant call to reinvent ourselves, dig deep into our souls and unleash our imagination.
Every blank canvas is an opportunity for an artist to make his creativity concrete. Every blank page is a birth process for a writer and every movement unbridles the originality of a dancer. While everything in Lebanon seems hopeless, draining, and depressing, I choose to fight through art. It allows a momentary escape from the inescapable realities of life.
A majority of Lebanese are feeling stuck at the moment, unsure of how to break free from the shackles of problems that plague life in the country. Life in Lebanon is tough, but leaving the country too is not easy. Banks have imposed restrictions on the amount of money that can be withdrawn which has stalled a lot of plans. Therefore, people are turning to art, exploring creative pursuits in order to survive. While some are indulging in gardening or cooking, some are using their creativity on social media where sarcasm and humour are a good combination to vent their frustration. So when someone asks me what to do to deal with the situation, my answer is, art if you must.
Besides, the best artists were always the ones who survived important ordeals, the great Austrian composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven composed some of his greatest music masterpieces while going deaf. He imagined the notes in his head and the result, his last piece, Symphony No. 9, is pure beauty.
The point is, art is a way to save ourselves. It is not a purpose, it is a mean that gives a meaning to our existence, to fill our boredom with expressiveness, and to survive life when everything is out there to break you.
Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut


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