Thinking Bigger Than One’s Self

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anais Nin

Clouds 1

Creative subjects like photography are the perfect place for Essential Questions. I believe people are drawn to art to creatively express answers to Essential Questions like: “Who am I? ” or “How can I relate my experiences to the world?” and ” What is this existence all about?” Most of my students come with Essential Questions they feel they can understand and express through art but are not sure how.

 If Essential questions as described in my research are 1) open-ended, 2) intellectually engaging, 3) having no single final answer and 4) recurs over time.1 then by their very definition they are not answerable…not definitively. But to attempt to answer you must look at Essential questions with a perspective you can only achieve by thinking beyond yourself.

One of my favourite authors is Anais Nin,  anaiswho kept a diary every day of her life from the age of 11 to the day she died at 74. She lived life to the fullest during ‘The Moveable Feast’ years of the 1920’s and 30′ in Paris. She met every important artist, helped Henry Miller by editing his famed work ‘Tropic of Cancer’, studied and practiced psychology as well as being a poet and an author herself. She was a woman who taught herself, through her writing, how to think about the world as a separate entity apart from herself whilst staying firmly rooted in reality. She believed in the power of the outer world of art, psychology, history and literature could transform your inner world and vice versa.

Her writing was all about essential questions and how they must try to be addressed within one’s own life before we can help other’s address them. How it is done is through a process of continual knowledge and change.

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to select a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” Anais Nin

” A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” Mohammed Ali

  1. http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/109004/chapters/What-Makes-a-Question-Essential%A2.aspx

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