“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”
― Alan W. Watts
An Artful Life is the only way of life. The alternative is a bleak one. Society teaches us to be compliant, to fit in and not rock the boat, but an artful life gives room for everyone’s ideas, even your own and looks to remove the shame and awkwardness that is sometimes associated with asking unique questions or seeing things differently than others do. An artful life is not a selfish life where your creative expression and goals take precedent, but one that leverages creative strategies to enrich ourselves and those around us, to cherish experience over things, and to learn to balance constraints with openness.
Now more than ever we are witnessing a growing polarization between people and we are loosing site of our shared humanity. We seem to have lost our romance for living and succumbed to desire, selfishness, and celebrity. We are becoming more and more isolated and fearful. Life is taking a position instead of listening and empathizing. This is not how artists approach their work and it shouldn’t be how we approach our lives.
An Artful Life is not an insistence on everyone becoming an artist. Artistic practice is not the same as creative living even though they share certain approaches. In fact, being an artist doesn’t automatically allow you to live artfully, which is likely why many people have the impression based on the stories of Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Miles Davis or Michael Jackson, that artists are troubled people who have a propensity for drugs, decadence, sexism, and eccentricity. Instead, An Artful Life is one that borrows techniques from the creative process which give you access to the everyday wonder of the world around you. Artful living is graceful living. It looks at life as a shared experience, rich with possibilities no matter how small. Everyone’s life begins as a blank canvas and it’s up to us to fill it, paint over it several times, and make it our own personal masterpiece that is shared in the gallery of the world.
I believe we all need to create and that creativity is integral to being a fully realized human being. When we are behaving creatively we are living fully, openly, and largely free of fear. Creativity can take on many forms but at its foundation it is play. Play, the nature behavior of our youth which over time is diminished in its importance or mediated by structured systems that shape how we play for us. We loose site of the openness of the life we had as a child because we feel it doesn’t conform to social norms. Sports, video games, and board games replace the freedom to imagine, outside of time, and experience fully within the moment what we are really living. It is finding our creativity that will liberate us from this modern trap of overwhelming data and give us a grounding in the real again. Living creatively—artfully—is the road to a richer human experience that is largely free of fear, uncontrollable desires, and anxiety.
I hope you’ll join me on this artful journey.