When we are born is when our existence starts. When we die is when we cease to exist. We appear and disappear. From the beginning of our existence we develop to the best of our appearance then we deteriorate until our disappearance.
As alive beings we react to what appears to us. Every smell, shape, color, texture and everything else that is perceived by the body causes it to emote.  We may consciously or unconsciously notice our body emoting, still, everything that appears to us tells us something about our own existence. 
Because we perceive appearance we also want to appear. "Whatever can see wants to be seen, whatever can hear calls out to be heart, whatever can touch presents itself to be touched. It is indeed as though everything that is alive has the urge to appear, to fit itself in the world of appearances by displaying and showing, not its inner self but itself as an individual" (PORTMANN, 1967). 
As we perceive appearance and want to appear, our existence in this world presupposes a spectator.  It means, nothing that appears exists in the singular, it appears to something else who senses the other appearance; everything that is is meant to be perceived by somebody. Every subject is also an object. The appearance guarantees its objective reality. 
Emoting, the body reaction to senses stimulus as emotion, is an automated body activity. Feeling is the nervous system reading of emotion and association of emotions to memories. As Antonio Damasio explains, emotions work in the body field while feelings work in the mind stage. 
When something appears to our body, and we are conscious about our senses perception, it disappears to our mind. The contrary is also true, what comes to us as thoughts - mental pictures and words - ceases to exist as physical to our senses even if the object in our mind is still in front of us.  Our mental pictures - our memories and feelings associated with them - keep the image’s existence in the world of ideas, of what ceases to exist from our physical body perception. It is as if the physical world stops to exist when we are penetrated with thoughts. In the opposite direction, the experience of body senses makes the mind silent, and the object experienced with our senses feels real. Being capable to silence the mind, as in a meditative state, is to be willing to let go what temporarily appears to our body senses. 
From shocking experiences of surprise and fear to great pleasures, the most impressive experiences are the ones that make us speechless, unable to describe, because our body, and then our brain which works constantly reading and interpreting our body emotions generating feelings and memories , are still processing the information; or because the object that appears to us is still very present to our body senses.
It is said that great works of art are the ones that make us speechless by silencing our mind, even though we always attempt to talk about them. Eventually we turn away from the attention of our body emotion experience and we drive our attention towards our mind - feelings and memories of the object we sensed the appearance of.
The stimulation we call art characteristically require us both to look very attentively and to look "beyond" (or "thoughts") what is understood as impediment, distraction, irrelevance. (SONTAG, 1983, p.134). 
Just as the great love experience, it is the one we perceive through our body - the body emotion intensity that drives our attention to it and quiets the mind - when we experience the best of other person existence; the height of their appearance to our senses. When the love experience is through the mind it only makes our body to emote to our imagination and memories expectation instead of the real object or person. The very samey is true when contemplating and experiencing art (both as creator and as spectator).
To have consciousness means to appear to oneself, but appearing to oneself (our mind) is not enough to guarantee its objective reality ; only what appears to our body. Only through the eye of an other person the individual becomes an object to himself (HUSTVEDT, p.370) . Through artistic expression such as painting, writing, sculpture and photography we are always communicating to somebody, a spectator, to whom we want to appear; Even if the spectators is one's imaginary self, the individual self narrative (where is formed the person's sense of identity).  It is as if the urge to create is an urge to appear in another object through which our existence can be perceived beyond our own. The artistic work is also where the artist appears to themselves, this time not only through their self narrative mind but through a materialized self to be experienced through the body senses - the body emotion - in the objective world. As if it confirms our existence to ourselves.
The same is the people's reaction to our own appearance which confirms to us our own existence. When such interaction is lacking we feel invisible. The body feels angry to confirm its existence. It feels empty. It feels as disappearing, resulting in anxiety, apprehensiveness about its own existence, which can only feel rested again once the senses is fed with the interactive reaction of its appearance to another person, confirming then its existence.
In such a perspective, the dream which we always have when sleeping, regardless of our memory of them when we are awake, is a mental stimulation to our body emotion to confirm its existence; A mental self assurance to confirm the body is still reacting, still alive. 
The anxiety to create something beyond our own where we appear through, to guarantee our appearance and self perpetuate through, comes from the awareness of our own death, which is the great anxiety one can have as a human. We fear our disappearance. Because of such fear we create culture, traditions, society, family, mythology, religions and, along it all, art. 
The common scientific sense which is highly materialist understands appearance as a function to the body preservation and survival. What if our complex body function is what works for our appearance sake?
Despite the mind, the body has its own impulses, its own automated behavior, its emotion. Even mono-cellular and protocell life reacts by what appears to them as a bodily impulse. What Spinoza called Conatus; the power of existence.  What ancient tribal peoples in the east called Mana, the energy from which everything appears from.  To be, is to possess desires. Homeostasis is what defines life, the impulse to preserve, perpetuate itself and guarantee its existence, self-confirming through its self-display.
[1, 6, 9] DAMASIO, A. The strange order of things: Life, feeling, and the making of cultures. New York: Vintage Books, 2019.
 EDEL, L. Henry James: A life. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
[4, 9] HUSTVEDT, S. My Louise Bourgeois. Separata de; HUSTVEDT, S. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Esseys on Art, Sex, and the Mind. UK: Sceptre, 2016.
[3, 5, 7, 11] ARENDT, H. The Life of the Mind: The groundbreaking investigation on how we think. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1977.
[8} WATTS, A. Tao: The Watercourse Way. New York: Pantheon Books, 1975.
 SONTAG, S. A Note on Bunraku. Separata de; SONTAG, S. Where the Stress Falls. England: Pinguin Books, 2009.
 HUSTVEDT, S. Embodied Vision: What Does It Means to Look at a Work of Art? Separata de; HUSTVEDT, S. Living, Thinking, Looking. England: Sceptre, 2013
 SACKS, O. The Lost Mariner. Separata de; SACKS, O. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. London: Picador, 2011.
[14, 15, 17] RANK, O. Psychology and The Soul. Mansfield Center, CT : Martino Publishing, 2011.
 SPINOZA, B. Spinoza Reader: The "Ethics" and Other Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
As a newborn we don't know that existed a world before us, we don't know that the things and people we see, hear and interact were there before us, we don't even know the concept of "before". When a newborn cries as a reaction of the uncomfortable or painful feeling of hunger their mother offers the milk from her breast, while for the newborn it is as if they have created the milk out of his cries, it is as if they have create the breast, as if it is appearing from nowhere; for the newborn even their mother is his own creation, as everything that there is out there and come in contact with them. Donald Winnicott explains it's natural for newborns to feel like everything comes from them. It's not a thinking, not a conceptualization in their heads (since they have none) but only a sensation.
If we feel people and things comes from us then it is as if they are us, it is specially true in relation with newborns and mothers who they experience the more frequency and intense touch, glance and care; who the newborn recognize the voice, the movements and the heartbeat when in their her womb.
The process of growing up is a phase of frustration because it is when we face the harsh reality that we can't have things as would please us and whenever we want all the time. It is when we start to realize that our mothers are an independent person with her own individuality, that things don't disappear when we don't see, feel and hear them anymore but they just go somewhere else, in an other place and reality that exist independent from us and was there before us came to the world.
Winnicott explains it is important for the child to express their frustration; The frustration expression happens in many ways, from associating people and things with good or bad personalities they learn from stories, by expressing and illustrating such associations in drawings, through playing which Winnicott described as a serious thing for the child, because it is through playing children try to make sense of the world and express their feelings; by expressing the act of love or hate and even destruction when the frustration feels unbearable, such as kicking doors and throwing things on the floor in anger. When toddlers are repressed, forbidden or punished, for being aggressive or destructive, they express their frustration in dreams, often as a nightmare.
All expression, of any kind, is an act of creation and destruction of our wishes and frustration even for grown ups. The act of building things, shape things, drowning and interacting are acts of creation that often help us to deal and overcome things in life that we can not have as we wished. In building and shaping things, or painting and drawing, in an aggressive manner or in an odd, freak, antic form can be an expression of destruction. At the end, what differ adults from toddlers other then becoming civilized, which means learning to repress and express our feelings of love (creation) and frustration (destruction) in a civilized way?
Depending on how we were allowed to overcome our unbearable frustrations is how we learn to deal with it in adult life. Not being able to overcome our natural frustration while growing up creates damaged adults who becomes little dictators, manipulative, aggressive, expressing their emotional pain with mean comments about people, through aggressive identitarian expression (such as football team support, nationalism or so) or through political and ideological position as representation of good and evil to be fought and imposed as they wish. The wanting of creating the world the way they want and the frustration of not being able to, which turns people nihilist.
Art helps us to deal with our feelings, it helps us to become civilized, it is the playing and the symbolic association we do to things, just like toddlers do which deep inside it is always serious for helping us to make sense of this world. Every act and interaction is an expression; From the little help we offer to a stranger, in mean comments some people do about others' appearances, in art, especially in confusing art, all is a form of expression.
Maybe because of its expressiveness representation people normally expect art to have a message, so they try to interpret what pieces of art say or what they are about, turning art into a utilitarian object that needs to have an explanation in order to be accepted and recognize as art. But as Susan Sontag says in "Against Interpretation", art is not about something, art is not supposed to have an utilitarian use for the public who appreciate and collect it, art is not about something. Art is a thing of its own, its only use is to experience it, sense it, as we are supposed to sense the world around us, shapes, sounds, colours, texture, composition pasterns and so. The same was a child kinking the door because of frustration is not a message but a sole expression of frustration, a something to be experienced in order to overcome the frustration, a hope that out of the destruction a greater figure will establish order. Reason why adults should not ask toddlers why they are misbehaving, they don't know and according to psychoanalysts such question only creates more confusion and frustration in their heads, which causes them to overthinking, leading them to mental stress and depression.
We can create and recreate meanings according to our own individual or collective understanding and experiences. Meanings are important, they are the associative representation we use to make sense of the world, consequently we use such meanings in our conceptual expression. But meaning and truth are not the same thing, so art is not about the message it carries (the meaning we give to it) but about the experiencing of its expressiveness, as creation and destruction, as overcoming our deep painful and unbearable feeling that causes us to overthink, so we can quite our mind and experience the fulfilling calm stillness behind everything, after the fulfilling act.
There is a certain pleasure on execute things that is distinguished [here] in two categories. The first is the pleasure of archiving the end goal and the second as the pleasure in the activity itself. Both, or any activity we start or engage in, is caused by a mental inquietude. Every mental inquietude, according to Antonio Damasio, is caused by somatic experiences; the reaction when we experience irritation, pleasure and everything in between. Reaction as striving for life balance. We react (emote), then create a mental picture (icon) of the experience which we associate to a meaning, from which we create feelings. Feeling, then, connect us back to mental picture, activating our memories (of experiences). We like to believe we are rational beings when in fact we are emotional beings. We learn, remember, think and execute things based on our mental pictures brought by emotion associate to them, even when we believe we are being pure rational, like in science.
We don't perceive the world and reality as it is but as we are. As the mental picture we have from our experiences are, and meanings associated to them. Our five senses are not meant to reveal us the world out there but to help us keep our life balance regulation (preserve and perpetuate life), in finding food when we are hunger, in find shade when we are tired, in identify danger to avoid and pleasure to chase. The evolution presented us with our mental capacity in order to quick, or better adapt in the short term, to our environment changes, increasing our chances of survival and life perpetuation. Nonetheless, we use our highly developed nervous system to attempt the understanding of reality. We can't experience all, or many, mental pictures at once but one by one and consequently the feelings associated to each of them - although we can experience them so quickly that we don't realize it. - It means that we experience our mental pictures in a linear way, which allow us to experience what we call as train of thoughts. As we are the tool we use to give meaning to reality, we fall in what Kant used to call as The professional thinker fallacy. We perceive time, reality, history and even science in a leaner and progressive way because it's how our mind - and our verbal communication - works; not because reality, time, history and science is linear and progressive. It doesn't mean science does not progress. It means that progress is subjective to our mind.
The will is a mental activity inquietude. Will is not merely the power or choosing or making decision - it's not a mere desire, strive or wanting. - It is rather a conflict between two drives: yes and no, as Hannah Arendt describes in her book The Life of The Mind. The will, before become a concept or mental organ known by philosophers, was interpreted as a duality in one person, as a hidden person inside a person. It's as to have two "I"s, the "I" who commands and the "I" who obey, which the second one perceive both "I"s as a whole willing desire obedience anticipation. The first one is the will. The will is the commanding thought, as described by Heidegger. We Will as overcoming this mental duality conflict.
Every mental activity ceases the sense experience and our senses experience cease our thinking, meaning that when we are thinking (our attention in our mental pictures - train thoughts) we are unaware of our senses perception. If something happens to grab our sense perception attention, we then become unaware of our thinking. In order to fulfill the will we act through our senses (act in the world) which once completed ceases the Will and put us at a mental fulfilling rest (no mental conflict/inquietude but just being), because we cease to want things once we get them.
The first kind of pleasure from execution that I mentioned at the beginning, that means reach to it's end, comes from the wish against the activity itself, which we do in order to overcome it, as an obstacle to or real goal. It's like the Aristotelian thought that says the goal of work is leisure, as the goal of war is peace. Once you execute the activity and reach it's goal you feel fulfilled and at rest, without mental conflict/inquietude (at least for a while).
The second kind of pleasure we have from executing things, is not in the activity end but in the activity experience itself. Duns Scotus, one of the most original and important philosophers from middle-ages, called it as love. The transformation of the Will in love. It's the activity that doesn't need to reach it's end in order to bring a restful mind. At the same time, because it never reaches it's end it never ceases the will. So the activity causes temporary pause in the Will expectation for an end, and such temporary pause, during the activity, causes us a constant fulfillment, the pleasure in the activity and not on it's end. Or in other words, the goal of the activity is not to get something once it's end (like leisure we expect get from the end of the work or peace we are after when we do war), but the goal is the activity itself.
Coming from a religious philosopher it explains that the divine love, or true love, is the fulfillment one have for a desired object not through possession (which would ends the desire) but through pure activities interaction/creation around, or related, to such desired object.
While for Nietzsche the will is a destructive power. The goal of the will is to become it's master, but once events happened the will have no power. You have no power in shape the past, or as in Nietzsche words: The Will cannot will backwards. For him, as well for Heidegger, it's the source of our duality (the will) conflict. What is left for the will frustration of not being the master of past events is to destroy it, by willing new events to pass in which the Will can be the master.
Ancient Greek philosophers didn't know the will, but they had a parable about the best athlete being the one who is not looking for glory or fame (the goal to archive at the end of the sport activity), but the one who finds the pleasure in the sport itself. Something similar we think today about artists, photographers or creators in general. The true or the best creator being the one not doing it for money or fame, but for the art sake. The activity not as a gateway to happiness but the happiness itself. Or as the Greek philosophers described, one as both actor in the stage of life and spectator of their own act. The individual duality working together and overcoming it's internal duality conflict (inquietude).
The Oriental thinkers (Daoism) had a similar allegory about life being a stage, where we act, but through our act we forget who we originally are, causing a conflict between our acting character and who we are inside. The conflict is solved when we realize our acting character and, from such realization, we become our own spectator of our own acting in life, enjoying the stage of life both as actor and spectator - enjoying the activity by finding fulfillment in it, doing it for it's on sake.
In a modernist philosophy this duality is interpreted as the social self and original self (this second called Being). The social self hides the internal Being. The Will is the spontaneous and intuitive pulse of our internal self (our Being) emerging during activities focused on the pleasure of the activity sake, as if enjoying our internal self emerging.
What the Ancient Greek Philosophers and Daoism have in common is the perception of life not as linear but as a cycle. In the west, the linear view of life and reality gained space specially because the way we associate our mental picture and meanings to our linear verbal writing system. The concept of a willing-Ego is only possible through such linear view of reality. During Middle-Ages and Renascence, both linear and cyclical philosophical perception of reality developed parallel to each other; as Hannah Arendt describes, Descartes and Leibniz in one side, Hobbes and Spinoza in the other side. Kant somewhere else. Our scientific path during modernism was influenced by the linear perspective which brought the concept of the Will. Such influence was mainly because of a linear religious doctrine imposed by the Catholic Church as political institution in Europe. As Antonio Damasio narrate in his book Looking For Spinoza, he [Spinoza] influenced our great thinkers and discoveries but in a hidden way, behind the linear perception that creates the contradiction betwen free will and causative effects of a linear event of life. The Inquisition banned any kind of Spinozist philosophy to be learned, used or mentioned for more than one hundred years, consequently (and accidentally) giving more highlight to Descartes philosophy.
The comedian Jim Carrey said in an interview that, with his comedy, he has realized what all people want: to be free from concern. Despite the fact people usually don't take him seriously I don't think he said it casually. We tend to believe through thinking we will find understanding of things, solutions to problems and knowledge but - the most likely - often we think to withdraw us from reality, without realizing it, so thinking becomes an addiction especially when we are going through stress.
We don't experience what is going on in our mind with our senses. It is as whatever we think about ceases to exist to our body senses once it's projected in our mind. We experience our thinking through meaning, ceasing to be a somatic experience. Or as Alan Watts used to say, those who think too much have nothing to think about other than their own thoughts. Hannah Arendt explained it in her book The Life of The Mind: "All thoughts arise out of experiences, but no experience yields any meaning or even coherence without undergoing the operation of imagining and thinking. Seen from the perspective of thinking, life in its sheer thereness is meaningless; seen from the perspective of immediacy of life and the world given to the senses, thinking is, as Plato indicated, a living death".
Plato's associating thinking to a living death wasn't his negative point of view though. While we are thinking we are unaware of our own corporeality, which Plato understood as achieving our pure soul quality. Plato's philosophical tradition was perpetuated through Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance by the Catholic church, influencing philosophers as Descartes who concluded "the soul can think without the body". This reflects the belief of a duality. The distinction between body and mind (soul).
Against the occidental philosophical tradition is the belief that we think because we have a body; the mind being a product of our body and not distinct from it. Again, thoughts arise out of experiences - from our body senses. As our experiences turn into thoughts the bodily experienced thing disappears. As Arendt puts it, "in order to appear in my mind only, it must first be de-sensed, and the capacity to transform sensed-objects into images is called imagination". The imagination deals only with what is absent to our senses. The mind deals with nothing other than itself. Perhaps we could say that the opposite of thinking is body experience - perceive with our senses.
On the other hand, as the Greek philosophers believed, only the spectator and never the actor can see and understand the spectacle of life, because the spectator is free from concerns. The spectator is not acting in the spectacle but only contemplating it. Different from the old occidental philosophical belief, something suggests this contemplation is not done through thoughts and imagination but only through somatic experiences.
I personally believe the best meaning we can give to life is leisure. As Aristotle understood it, not the free time we got after a day of work, not a play and not a recreation but the deliberate act of abstaining, of hold oneself back from the ordinary activity determined by our daily wants in order to contemplate it. This contemplation is the act of leisure, "which in turns was the true goal of all others activities, just as peace, for Aristotle, was the true goal of war" - quoting Arendt again.
While for the Greeks the spectator may understand the 'truth' of what the spectacle is about, but with the price of have to pay a withdrawal from participating in it, the oriental wisdom presented by Alan Watts suggests something different; that we can be both the actor and the spectator. As the Taoist story goes, imagine if you were god and knew all without surprises; how boring would it be!? So we play this theater of life for fun - just as children do their play sometimes taking it too serious and forgetting it's just a play - and as we grow older we forget who we are, we forget we are wearing a phony by taking it too serious and thinking it's what we are. The spectator is the one who can see the play and enjoy the spectacle while still playing it, only knowing now that it's all a play and people forgot about it. - Like actors playing in a scene for a movie sometimes taking it too seriously mistaking the playing character as themselves, or living the character but still knowing he is another person behind it.
As I understand it – or from my point of view which can be questionable – contemplation is the way we can experience what is around us with our body senses, until the moment we gain the awareness about the spectacle we are in, without our thinking distraction that alienates us from our somatic experiences. This is why I think art is important. The thing that makes us stop and listen, see, feel through our senses. Pay attention to our somatic experience and step aside from the vicious meanings in thinking.
Truth and meaning are not the same thing. Our thinking doesn't bring us the reality truth but meanings, because our verbal language, associated to words, is metaphorical and not analogous to the mental images created from our somatic experiences. "Most people have experienced the odd sensation of estrangement that comes from looking long enough at a single object", says Siri Hustvedt in her book Mysteries Of The Rectangle. She goes on: "for all of us there was a time before we knew what things were called, and then the world looked different. Cézanne's still life is a rigorous effort to return to a vision unburdened by meaning". In other words, Cézanne's attempt was to see in painting what was lost in language.
When we look, listen and feel hard enough, long enough, we contemplate and find a world beyond meaning which tell us something else and which our verbal language is too limiting to comprise.
...and the truth about reality is it boredom. Nobody wants to be bored or, at least, most people seem incapable of being bored in our vicious entertainment culture.
Being able to talk about events is the most effective way to distance ourselves from reality. Once we concentrate on events, events about us, about others, about here or about anywhere else, we are not conscious about reality. Events are not reality, they are lapses of time and thoughts. Based on this principle we can say that reality is eventless.
Here is where the contradiction lies. Most people will say the opposite, associating reality to events but which version, or point of view, of events they are associating to reality? Which one is the real one? We could say all are real because they are the different side views of the same thing complementing each other. But we could also say that none of them are real because they are analyses from thoughts and therefore language.
The problem with language, which we humans have highly developed, is that it is always a translation. It is never reality but the organised thought of our perception. Thus it is always a metaphor.
Our consciousness are never the feedback of our reality or of our existence in real time. It is a echo in a delayed time. And we get it by challenging reality because people don't believe in reality, everything has to be evaluated and giving a meaning because we can't stand a meaningless life.
We can then say that thought is not compatible with reality, which contradicts the discourse of reality and rationality. We rationalize to give meaning and objective. We create a illusion world in metaphors to push us to move forwards, to the next stage of objective and meaning. Language and writing are the illusion of meaning.
On the other hand, while we become seduced by all the joy and beautiful worlds of meaning, which creates addicting meaningful events, reality itself must become enigmatic. If not enigmatic it becomes too obvious. If it is too obvious it doesn't seduce. If there is no seduction, there is no meaning. If there is no meaning, people won't take it seriously. Like reality itself.