A Means to an End

 In Cityscapes, Travelscapes

Rome has a special place in my heart. My own photographic journey started from here about two and a half years ago. I have been an artist for many years prior to this and when I first visited Rome and Florence and came across the works of the masters, I was so greatly inspired by all the beauty and details of their works. Even though the artists have passed on but their works remained timeless.

Armed with a point and shoot camera, I realized that I didn’t do the place justice by capturing blurred shots and low quality compositions. Inspired to return once again, I bought my first DSLR and proceeded to learn as much as I can on photography. The rest they said is history. I never looked back ever since.

I finally managed to return to Rome after two years. It was really not the perfect time to be in Rome when one of the worst storm and flood hits the nation and I have to endure the cold rain and heavy downpour. It was tough shooting in these conditions as my lens were smeared by the raindrops all the time. As it wasn’t easy for me to make the trip to Rome due to the cost of traveling, I have to make the best out of the trip.

At the same time there is a kind of excitement and beauty being in the storm. The dark clouds, the reflective surfaces. The coldness and the moody blue hues.

Undeterred by the storm, I pressed on to capture as much as I can while being there.

It was such an adventure.

Most of us are striving really hard in life so that we can afford the best lifestyle based on our capabilities. It might be for ourselves, our families or our children. Someone has to sacrifice to find the fastest route to making money because money is the only sole fuel to be able to survive in the modern world. The fastest way? Just get any reasonable job and let someone who has money pays us so that we can exchange our time for bread and butter. That is how most of us are brought up in education where the main goal is to get a good job. Are we even aware that time is the only commodity in life that can be spent but not hoarded?

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

Vincent Van Gogh

So why are we doing mind-numbing jobs just for the money? It saddens me to see most of my friends out there with no zest in their lives and just practically hated their jobs but they have to force themselves to do it because they don’t have a choice.

I would suggest to spend the time wisely first, then decide how you would make a living.

One day I came across a question asking that if everything you needed to survive in this world is being provided for, things like necessities such as clothing, shelter and food but you would have to sit in one place and do nothing for the rest of your life. Would you do it? Basically that would mean that being alive is all that you do.

Most people would think that it is crazy to live life by just sitting there but in some ways we are all doing it.

If we really spare a thought for ourselves, we would understand that it is the quality of life that matters and not the quantity of years of being unconscious and alive. At the end of the day when its time to leave the world, every meaning given to you from others would cease to exist and slowly we would be forgotten in time. What remains is how you lived your life.

Time is something that we cannot have more of and despite common beliefs, we all do not share the same twenty-four hours in a day. For a person who can live to eighty as opposed a person who can only live to forty, his twenty-four hours in a day are immediately halved. Do we really know how much time we have left to live a fully realized life?

Not really.

A means to an end basically refers to doing something that we have no interest in so that it can help us to achieve something else we want.

The mind is trained from young. You want something? You have to sacrifice for it. There is no other way. Sacrifice your desires, sacrifice your joy, sacrifice your talent and geniuses for the sake of survival. You have to do it because it is not about what you want, it is about what others want from you, so that you can make a living.

This misunderstanding causes us to seek from outside first, so whatever opportunities comes along, we grab it first then think about it later. We failed to realize that most of the things we took wasn’t really what we wanted in the first place. We just forgotten to ask ourselves what we really want before we jumped right into it.

That is the beginning of the state of misery and life becomes an endless struggle.

It has always been the case that geniuses are a lonely bunch. They are almost always forsaken by society due to their eccentricity. The way a genius think is so different from the norm that they are not easily accepted by the masses. At the same time, they prefer to be alone just so that they can do what they came here to do and not be easily distracted by others.

Fearful people pools together because there is security in a crowd. Geniuses have the courage to stand alone and light their own paths while inspiring the crowd along the way.

Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most famous painter in the world, was considered by many to be mad. For having produced more than two thousand and one hundred artwork, he had sold only one painting in his lifetime. After he died at the young age of thirty-seven, his story started to get known by people and today his paintings sell for tens of millions of dollars. Sadly his talents were only recognized after his death. From the song titled Vincent that was dedicated to him, the lyrics said that,”this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.” It was said that a genius like Van Gogh was born at the wrong time and thus not appreciated.

Dr Paul Gachet whom took care of Vincent during his finals months of his life expressed his admiration for this man by saying that he is a great artist and an honest man who had only two aims, art and humanity.

It is the means and the end. It need not bring us anything. It is just a reminder that everything we are doing in the moment has significance. We may not see it yet but we should be living our lives in totality for it is every moment that makes up our life story.

Vincent’s life story touched mine. It is very rare that a person can live in a state of the means being the end. In modern society a man like this is deemed as stupid. For the self-realized man, it is the greatest significance of his life, living totally in what he believes in. The art itself becomes the reward. Every moment of life itself becomes the meaning of being alive. There is no end to reach, the end is already here in the now.

Being an artist myself, I sometimes question myself why I do what I do. It is a never-ending struggle to perfect the craft. It takes years to reach a significant stage of honing the skills. It is tough and at the end of the day, why should it matter? Would the art bring me bread and butter? Would it be of use to anyone? Who cares about art anyways? If I focus on the end, the means wouldn’t have happened.

The reason then for one appreciating art is that one will see that the art is a reward by itself. It is the means and the end. It need not bring us anything. It is just a reminder that everything we are doing in the moment has significance. We may not see it yet but we should be living our lives in totality for it is every moment that makes up our life story. This life story is reason enough for our existence. There is no need for a perceived end. The means is the way.

This is the reason I share my art and my work. Hoping to bring you into this shared universal consciousness that what I see may also be what you see. What I experienced in the beauty of the world may also become your experience. What inspires me will also inspire you for there is no two sunrise that is ever the same and I hope to bring the beauty of each sunrise into your heart.

Thank you for looking at and supporting my art, my song…

For in my heart, every moment and scenes that I took in my pictures lives on eternally.

It is the means, not the end.

It is but a way of living.

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