The Greatest - An Artist

Vale Muhammad Ali.

We did lose an undisputed legend of the sporting world this weekend - and also a great artist.

Muhammad Ali's boxing prowess was equally matched by his commitment to social justice and of course his verbal abilities - his quotes, quips and 'trash talk' clearly displaying his immense strength of self-belief, determination and an utterly unique approach.

I believe Ali tapped into the source of his very individual self, that thing that set him apart - and each of us too - from any other human being on the planet. Doing so, he was able to not just be a skilled boxer or sensationalist showman, he was able to express this 'self', and the talents that went with it, to their optimum, to their fullest. I'm not just saying he was an artist because of how he spoke or how he 'performed', but because these things he did were an honest and wholehearted expression of what lay within himself. To my mind, that makes him an artist - driven by not just a need to succeed or to 'be the best', but to bring his own unique humanity to the world.

That's what I believe art and creativity offers us - the opportunity to bring the best and most unique parts of ourselves to the world. Of course, it is often expressed in forms most of the rest of the world can understand (music, sculpture, speech, or sport), and it is often able to resonate with people we've never met, who come from opposite sides of the world and who are shaped by different cultures.

Our creativity is our humanity, and it lies within each of us - it gives life to who we each are. We know "greatness" when we see it, and I believe that's when someone has tapped deeply into their humanity, and (thus) their creativity. Each of us has the ability to do this.

We can do it in anything we do, whether its 'artistic' or not. But also - Importantly - experiencing the art and creativity of others lets us connect or tap into this part of ourselves - the power experienced in seeing an incredible vocal or musical performance, an artistic or sculptural work. For this reason, art and creativity are fundamental - they allow us to be the best we can be, "the greatest of all time".

The doco about Muhammad Ali's victory in Zaire, "When We Were Kings" (the clip above is the trailer) is one of my favourite films of all time, because it demonstrates the above in so many ways - great filmmaking, some of the world's best music, and "The Greatest": Ali.