The art of living
It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Feeding the body is very different to feeding the soul. We can physically survive on bread and water, but when it comes to our spirituality, it is a tragedy to only be existing. Life can be magical. We want to experience wonder and we want to feel inspired. And, if we try hard, we may get the chance to make a contribution and leave the world better off. Even if we simply inspire the people around us, then that is a life well lived.
The way I see it, everything in life has two parts. The utility and the art. We can eat a piece of bread and butter, and it may even be a delicious piece of freshly baked health loaf. But the art of fine dining is a different experience. Work is a key example. We can bust our chops to make ends meet — paying the bills is a way of life. But, if we are fortunate, we can follow our passion, and do what we love. When you believe in what you do, and when you love your work, then it is a different experience. It doesn’t mean that your life will be easy. Following a passion is most often a struggle, but it does mean you are alive, and that you are trying to realize a dream. And that can be beautiful.
Going through the motions is about surviving. We have all experienced times when we feel flat, and unmotivated. These are never times we care to remember. Sadly, we witness many people in life who are treading water all the time. I know that luck has a lot to do with our existence. If you are born into a middle class family and get an education and a roof over your head and 3 meals a day, then you have opportunities to dream and take risks. But if you are born into a situation where every day is a struggle to survive then the soul is far more exposed to hardship than wonder. I can’t explain how luck works, and why some people come into this world with everything going for them, and others with struggle and hardship. What I do know is, if you are reading this, the chances are that you are capable of realizing your destiny.
I love that movie the Dead Poets Society. I have seen it many times over the years. Here is some dialogue that I will never forget : No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. And you have that look in your eye like 19th century literature has nothing to do with going to business school or medical school. Right? Maybe … We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering — these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, art, romance, love — these are what we stay alive for.
The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
I can’t claim to have cracked the code when it comes to the art of living. But as I get older and wiser I do realize how much time we waste investing in stress, and how much we don’t spend on the little things, which is often where the magic is. We often rush the truly beautiful things life has to offer and land up spending our time in situations where we get drained and frustrated.
Another thing I realize more and more is that you can’t please everyone. Also, e-mail and text messages are generally a waste of time. To feed the soul is to take a risk and to climb that mountain. It is about putting in the time into the simplest of things. It is about cutting out the bullshit and staying focused.
Texting is not the same as writing. Writers take the time. Sending a text is a utility. It is instant and it is cheap. Communications is not as easy as everyone thinks. Expression is an art. And to simplify is an art. It takes time.
Being a “boss” is different to being a leader. A boss is all about utility. Leadership is an art. It requires love and sensitivity.
Getting the job done is about utility. Working with passion is a different thing. Labours of love are about the art. They take time and effort and they are memorable.