I have been carrying Life of Pi by Yann Martel around for over a year now, hoping to read while in waiting rooms and sitting in car line to pick the kids up from school. Instead I always end up chatting with someone or spotting a magazine that begs reading. I finally got a chance to start it and Life of Pi has my wheels turning. This quote about a developing friendship with an atheist professor made me stop and reread it several times:
I felt a kinship with him. It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and then they leap.My mind has hardly stopped chewing on this for two days. I have always felt there has to be room for the doubter - that true faith has to ask to hard, niggling questions and find a satisfactory answer. I believe that we learn and grow by questioning, but you have to seek and find the answers to those questions. In choosing doubt as a philosophy of life, you essentially choose to not seek answers.
I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We all must pass through the garden at Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" then surely we are also permitted with doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
Religion and faith of all kinds intrigue me, but also what really struck me was the idea of the artist choosing doubt. This is the artist who links the value of their art with the number of sales. This is the artist who spends their days at the easel yet turns their paintings to the wall when company arrives.
Is my art valuable because someone wants to buy it? Or, is it valuable because I feel compelled to create it? If no one else loves what I make, should that cause me to stop creating? I believe the satisfaction to my spiritual need to create is in seeing my vision fulfilled, not in seeing cash exchanged for that small reflection of my soul.
We are driven to create. Whether we show in upscale galleries or hide our work in closets, the need to see our visions come to life is ingrained. The desire to create is instilled in us at our creation, when we are made in the image of the Creator - the greatest of all artists. My work... your work.... it is valuable because it is love. It is a sharing of the secret places in our souls and that is more valuable than money, prestige, or fame.