Took some time to talk with Claudius for a while today. He was bored on a long holiday weekend and we had time for a great chat. One of the more interesting seeds that he sowed was the purpose of art and beauty in a life.
He gave a reference to a book he had been reading, about art and its importance. Then I got jabbering and thus this post is here.
Music, painting, sculpture, and all the forms of art (Yes, even the not-well-done ones) should all elicit from us a reminder that the world is a beautiful place. A great time we do not notice this simple fact. If a piece of someone else's time can draw from us a recognition of the beauty, maybe for a moment we can turn away from the tawdriness and ugliness that we are so prone to obsess on.
I guess that I see this as a survival strategy second to none. When you spend all of your time wondering what/how to eat and how to kill/maim transgressors and punish the guilty, you are surviving, but the only thing that truly survives is the meat puppet that carries you. I would argue that you do all of those things out of necessity, as they allow your physical form to live.
The beauty that surrounds you, the slap of waves coming in from the ocean, the whisper of wind through the trees, the raucous cackle of a crow wheeling overhead are why you are living. Art can give this to you in a small way when they aren't otherwise easily available.
Paintings and sculpture can show you a purity of form. Music can elicit the sounds of beauty in your mind. A simple hymn can allow you to briefly sense God.
Don't leave this essential out of your plans.