How A Robot Taught Me To Be Human

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on an airplane having just watched Wall-E for the first time. I love to work on airplanes, but I love even more to take the time to relax. I rarely relax and, when there is entertainment, I like to get caught up on all the things I’ve been meaning to see for a while.

In this case, I was very behind on Wall-E. But for some reason, it was calling to me this morning.

Let me start by answering the question I know you’re going to ask: Yes, of course I cried. I cry a lot during movies. Not just during sad parts. I sob my face off the most when people show love or work together. In this case, I was quietly wiping away tears while the derelict robots helped Wall-E and EVE (EVA?) escape the police robots. Why? Because they were all working together for something bigger than themselves and damn it, that’s beautiful.

And yes, it’s embarrassing because I’m almost always sitting next to strangers on planes and so I’ve cried in front of a lot of strangers. As Wall-E would say, “Wall-Eva.” (Say like whateva in order for the joke to land. I’m not saying it will, but I do appreciate you trying.)

View this post on Instagram

✨WALL-E✨ (25×26 mm) . "WALL-E" is one of the great silent movies. Andrew Stanton (writer/director) and his team have created a classic screen character from a metal trash compactor who rides to the rescue of a planet buried in the debris. 🌎 When hope arrives in the form of a seedling, the film blossoms into one of the great screen romances as two robots remind audiences of the beating heart in all of us that yearns for humanity – and love – in the darkest of landscapes. 🌱 . This original painting + limited edition prints will be availble on "Robots Among Us" art show at @29th_street_gallery (April 20, 2019 – May 4, 2019). I will create 9 robot miniature paintings for this show. Do you have any requests? Who is your favorite robot? 😊🤖 . . . #RobotsAmongUs #Chicago #artshow #show #robot #robots #robotart #art #watercolor #watercolour #miniature #painting #tiny #tinypainting #tinyart #miniatureart #mini #miniaturepainting #closeup #walle #disney #pixar

A post shared by watercolor miniatures ✍️ (@julialasart) on

The crazy message that I love love loved from Wall-E was the fact that this robot was reminding humans how to be human. And the fact that part of the reason Wall-E seemed to outlast so many of his robot counterparts on Earth was because he had a mission beyond simply his directive. He had his own personality. He had a genuine curiosity for the world. And he actively studied the world around him in order to attempt to live it even more fully. He found joy in things and showed empathy for the only other living creature he could find (a creepy little cockroach they made seem like his dog and it was both cute and unnerving).

Recently, a creative peer talked about how he believed strongly in quality over quantity of life. He came to that philosophy thanks to past experiences with people who were living with debilitating diseases and his understanding of how they coped with and learned from them.

Between his comments and watching Wall-E, I’m starting to better understand how to be human. Which is strange because I do feel like I’ve been only a human for the past, well, all of my life. But in many was I’ve just been reactive and going through the motions. I think that there are times when you can be more proactive, more curious, and more genuinely committed to whatever it is you’re focusing on at the moment.

Lesson here: Be more human and less robot, even if you are actually a robot.

I hope we all learned something today. You’re welcome.

Powering off.

Advertisements

Why Do We Do This?

thegeneralI had an epiphany a couple weeks ago.

I was sitting in my bed with my computer watching Netflix. I had a hankering for some classics so I watched “The General” by Buster Keaton.

And here’s the thing… I laughed. A lot. That shit was hilarious.

And it boggled my mind. Not that I was laughing at a comedy movie (after all, that’s what they’re for). But the fact that I was laughing at something a man created almost 90 years ago. The humor and expressions were so classic and so human and so real and so identifiable that I was entertained. I was entertained even though it was shot with technology barely more advanced than the fossils I see in history museums compared to what we have now. It made me laugh despite the fact that the civil war themes feel so far gone and not something I can readily identify with anymore. It made me laugh despite the fact that there was no spoken dialogue.

It was magical.

And I realized that’s what I want to do. I want to tell stories that can long outlast me. I want to connect people through laughter. I want to make people feel more human through simple storytelling and honest reactions. I want to become a part of the very fabric of our culture through art that people for generations can be entertained by.

I don’t know much about Buster Keaton’s personal life. I don’t know what his daily struggles were. I don’t know how much debt he had or what he was thinking while filming “The General.” I don’t know how stressed he was or the hardships he faced. I get to see his body of work. And it’s still entertaining and funny.

That’s what I want. Not to worry about the stresses or the frustrations except what I can learn from them. To be a good and balanced person that can do her best work and be present and enjoy it. And to actually do the work. Good work. Quality work. And lots of it. So that someday, when a person 90 years in the future is curling up on their floating space bed and using their internal brain-scan chip to surf the internet, they could stumble upon something I created. And be entertained by it. And feel more connected to humanity through connecting to creations of the past.

Whoa. Like… deeeeeep, man.