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Aysha Taryam: Broken hearts inspire minds
December 08, 2013
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The creative mind is in constant search of emotion, forever on an insatiable quest to feel. If not for joy, a painter’s brush would never stroke a canvas. If not for love, musical halls would echo only silence and if not for heartache, one’s pen would never run dry.

Of all the emotions a soul might experience it is the most painful that creativity craves. It is only when one hears his heart shattering into a thousand pieces that the urge to create seizes control. Loss, betrayal, a love that never was, all have at one point fuelled the talented, the gifted among us to create masterpieces some of which adorn the world’s museums today. 

Sylvia Plath penned her most memorable poetry, the words her entire fame rests on, only after hearing the shattering of her heart upon learning of her husband’s affair. She spoke of a burst of inspiration of which the source could only be the agonising pain of betrayal.

The most famous of those who wallow in despair, the artist Edward Munch, painted many self-portraits but none reached the height of morbidity until he came to the realisation that he could never commit to the only woman he loved. From this suffering Self-portrait in Hell was birthed. A painting depicting Munch surrounded by flames, burning in an eternal fire of grief.

The French author Stendhal was tormented by his unrequited love for a woman who treated him cruelly, for her he wrote his book De L’Amour (On Love) in an attempt to find logic in the illogical spirits of love. His lover’s ruthless rejection of his passion compelled him to dissect the anatomy of love. Having tired of looking for reason behind loving one who carelessly tramples over your heart, he finally wrote: “A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love.”

The world is strewed with monuments to loss, grief and guilt. The Taj Mahal is a wonder of our world, yet is it a wonder because it is unfathomable for us to imagine a love so great as to outlast life? Or is it so because we wish to believe that it could? Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built this magnificent tomb in memory of his wife so that she might be remembered till eternity, this monument took sixteen years to construct. The world believes it was built by love but reading Shah Jahan’s own words on the Taj, one could say it was grief that built the Taj Mahal and it was sorrow that saw it through sixteen years till completion.

Shah Jahan’s own words describe the mausoleum:

“The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs; and the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.”

People flock to witness this monument to love yet all that is truly there is the physical manifestation of love being overshadowed by sadness, for it is the feeling of loss that raised the walls of this world wonder.

We have reached the age of denial, we have become happiness seekers, afraid to feel. We are told to think positive, to seek only joy. Stores overflow with books selling you ways to rid yourself of ‘negative’ feelings. Assuming you could package and sell happiness and that indeed you can be taught to rid yourself of unwanted feelings, what happens to the process of creation?

What happens when we willingly diffuse the power of other emotions? It is unfair, one could even say naïve, of us to deem all emotions that do not leave us relaxed, negative. We must continue to build, paint and scribe, channelling the intensity of our pain and sorrow instead of allowing them to consume us.

Not intending to seem dark, but I am a firm believer that only when engulfed by darkness can we appreciate any source of light no matter how minute. I do wish you a lifetime of happiness but should the inevitable happen and sadness rears its head, I wish for you the strength to gather the scattered pieces of your shattered heart and a burst of creativity that shall bring you true fulfilment, who knows maybe even enrich our world.
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