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I first encountered the paintings of early humans on cave walls in an art book when I was a child, and I was utterly captivated. Over the years, my fascination with these paintings and their creators only deepened. I always found myself pondering the same question: What were the thoughts and emotions that drove those individuals to create these paintings?

The paintings found on the walls of caves like Lascaux, Altamira, and Chauvet in what is now France and Spain are believed to date back to the Paleolithic Era, around 60.000 BC. These remarkable works depict various animals, such as wild horses, bison, and deer,as well as hunting scenes. In essence, 50-60 thousand years ago, someone was bridging the gap between the tangible world and the realm of imagination, exhibiting a profound sense of bravery in doing so. “Bravery” is the key term here. Those individuals were, in their own way, inspiring others through their courage. Can we rightfully call the people behind these cave paintings “artists”? I believe the answer is a resounding yes! Experts say that these paintings were crafted for protection against formidable forces, for magical practices, as acts of worship, or to create a sacred space. There might be other reasons, too. Perhaps they sought to capture their adversaries on cave walls, or maybe they wished to ensure the success of their hunts. Depicting animals as “killed” on the cave walls could be symbolic of hope or a sign of anticipation for an effortless hunt. Regardless of the motivation, the individuals responsible for these paintings were undeniably creative - both innovative and inventive.

They utilized materials such as vegetable dyes and charcoal, a technological feat for their era. They transformed their thoughts into value-generating creations, whether you label it imagination or entrepreneurship. They manufactured materials so durable that their artefacts have endured for tens of thousands of years. For me, the most noteworthy aspect is that these people were great storytellers. Through these paintings, they were recounting, preserving and forming a collective memory of their experiences, emotions, and observations. The concept of “recording history,” often dismissed as cliché, was fully realized in the narratives of these early artists. The paintings on cave walls continue to convey numerous insights. Moreover, they were passed down from one individual to another, from one community to the other, and from one era to the next, serving as one of the most crucial elements in the development of humans as social beings. Today, we are still striving to create narratives that can make a difference. Being creative necessitates the capacity to tell stories, and the ability to craft stories stems from the unwavering determination to courageously plunge into the realm of imagination.

We have used various descriptors for the cave wall painters - artists, creators, innovators, dreamers, catalysts of change, storytellers, architects of memory... But I believe there’s an overarching theme

that unites all these attributes. Above all, these individuals displayed tremendous courage. They epitomized its most sophisticated form. The cave wall paintings provide a valuable lesson for those who oversimplify courage as mere “fearlessness.” Courage is primarily about confronting fear, uncertainty, and risks. Every phenomenon carries its

The cave wall paintings provide a valuable lesson for those who oversimplify courage as mere “fearlessness.” Courage is primarily about confronting fear, uncertainty, and risks.

polar opposite. Those ancient artists did not shy away from confronting their own fears. They must have felt fear when embarking on hunts, and perhaps it was their way of conquering those fears that led them to create these paintings. This act of confronting fear formed the foundation of their courage. Courage only endures if you can confront your fears and make a difference.

In today’s world, many seek to navigate the sea of self-improvement, hoping it will always lead them to a dreamlike shore of golden sands. Yet, not every sea resembles a dream; sometimes, we find ourselves on the proverbial Robinson Crusoe’s island. Surviving on that island begins with confronting your fears. Just as the wild island could have engulfed Robinson if he hadn’t acknowledged his fear, this chaotic world can swallow us whole at any moment. But the famous castaway managed to summon courage from within his fear. In our contemporary world, we aspire to leave a mark, to lead the way, and to be remembered for our courage, blazing a trail for those who follow in our footsteps. The artworks that illuminate the path toward these aspirations have existed for centuries, even millennia. Those who fearlessly experiment, embrace innovation, engage in research, possess the gift of storytelling, and navigate the intricate corridors of social memory have been shouting at us from cave walls for 60 thousand years: Confront your fears if you wish to summon the courage to inspire others.


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