It’s easier to look at a painting, than to paint

Voyeurism is so easy isn’t it? It’s so simple to look in on others, scrolling through our Facebook feeds peeping into various petri dishes of people living glamorous, happy and perfect life’s, spending hours watching television shows or reading magazines. It creates a dichotomy between those who do and those who watch others doing things.

In our culture of instant gratification, watching others achieve can be gratifying as much as it can provoke insecurity. Isn’t it easier to watch someone else cook a meal than to cook yourself? Isn’t reading a book simpler than writing one? Isn’t looking at images of your friends 6am workout class easier than going to a 6am workout class? Is it not a fact that things often look more effortless than they truly are?

We often expect things to be unproblematic. If things don’t unfold simply and elegantly, we aren’t interested. We don’t like the grind, the pain, the grit of consistent effort. As humans we naturally lean towards the easy way out. We adore comfort and security. We are evolved to seek these things just as we are evolved to crave salt and fat.

But what if we stop and consider that often the things that mean the most to us, that make life truly rewarding, take struggle, sacrifice, compromise and effort. That’s not to say that every day of your life should be difficult, but that in the striving for something there will be discomfort. What if we acknowledged that sometimes we like to sit and criticise a painting, rather than paint our own picture? What if we accepted that the voyeur has power in their passivity? What if we acknowledged that it takes courage, confidence and daring TO DO, and very little at all to watch.

Reasons why we watch and don’t do:

To do would be opening ourselves up to criticism from fellow voyeurs. To sit passively behind the parapet invites no danger. To run into battle sword raised demands an outcome.

We can enjoy watching someone succeed or fail, without having to face the personal investment or cost of succeeding or failing ourselves. This enables us to witness another’s life unfold in a safe, detached manner.

The passivity of looking or listening feels rewarding. Our senses feel engaged, without us needing to go through any discomfort. It is almost a synthetic feeling of reward.

To take a decision is to leave the harbour, to take a risk. No-one can say if things will be better or worse for taking that decision. To sit and watch others can feel like risk mitigation. We monitor their success rate and decide what to do for ourselves based on what we witness.

What if we started painting, writing, running, learning, being, doing?

All my love

K

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