Life Artist



Your Vote CountsIf you are like some people I know, one of those names throws you into paroxysms of loathing, disgust, or rage. If that’s true for you, everything you read and hear confirms that you are right. If (that name) prevails in November, life will be unbearable. Everything that happens for years after that will demonstrate to you that you were right all along.

“You have a confirmation bias!”

“No I don’t! You do!”

“See? I told you so!”

I have friends and brothers who stand on one side of that divide, and friends and brothers who stand on the other. I do not think their thoughts.

“Out of the cacophony of suffering and chaos that can mark human life, the life artist sees or creates a symphony of meaning and order. A life of wholeness does not depend on what we experience. Wholeness depends on how we experience our lives.”
     ― Desmond Tutu

Life artist. A life artist. What does it take to be an artist? My sister is an artist, a real one in the usual sense of the word. She paints and draws with passion and intelligence. She teaches art too, has for years. Our dad used to ask her when she’d get a real job, not just making pictures. She knew all along, though, that what she was doing was important and rewarding. She would open new worlds for young people, one after another after another. She would save some kids’ lives. With art. Her art.

In recent months she has faced some big challenges — you know, that C-thing — meeting them head-on with passion and intelligence. That was when I started to notice her mastery as a life artist. She decided what to do (what picture to paint) and started by assembling the tools to do it. Some art projects need charcoals, paint, canvas and brushes; others need medicine, instruments and machinery, a healthy diet, rock-solid belief and gritty determination. Both need vision, seeing beyond what is to what can be. I see a pattern here. Attitude.

“We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.”
     ― Charles R. Swindoll

I admire my sister the artist. She takes the 10% and smothers it with the 90%. Kills it.

We're All Screwed 2016We’re all screwed! Ha, funny little thing to say, or is it your belief? I don’t want this to be the attitude I choose. No matter what happens in November, I will still live my life. Do you really think we’re all gonna die, or that you’ll have to defend your home against marauding (that name again) supporters? C’mon. We’re friends. We love the same country.

I remember not-so-many words from all the countless sermons I have heard in oh-so-many church services over oh-so-many years. Some of those long-remembered words (I was about ten, but sixty-some years later I can still hear Fr. Herbert’s voice) are these:

Two men looked out from prison bars.
One saw mud; the other, stars.

I want to be a life artist. It’s a real job, and it’s about attitude, choosing my own attitude. I choose how I experience my life.

And, oh yes, I vote.

12 thoughts on “Life Artist

  1. Love this so much, I shared it on Face book. You put words together so good, and they make great sense! Your sister is in my thoughts and prayers, knowing the best will be.
    P.S. I’ve got some information , through a webinar, from my genealogy program, I use at home. I have only read parts of it, but it actually is making some sense in how I’m looking at my DNA tests.
    Let me know if you’re interested. Sorry to go off subject, but my mind just remembered, you and I had talked about this subject.

    • Thank you for the kind words and for the prayers. I’ve thought of our intention to get together to go over the DNA-genealogy subject, but never carried through. I’ve been going through the tutorials and trying out the process of connection with DNA relatives. Found a sixth cousin thrice removed who shared some new information on my French line. Not much else though — yet. It’ll still be good to get together when time and inclination coincide. Maybe it will be a better learning session when I can bring more understanding to the party.

  2. I always love to hear what you have to say and i just shake my head in wonder that i am so lucky to be invited into your blog.

  3. Bruce, you put this so eloquently!!! I enjoy reading your writing. Wish more people thought about living their lives like this….Ron was the 90% type too. My prayers are with your sister.

  4. Do you really think we’re all gonna die, or that you’ll have to defend your home against marauding (that name again) supporters? C’mon. We’re friends. We love the same country.

    Growing up in the shadow of WWII. I have often wondered if my German relatives thought this in the late 1930s.

    • Well, I guess that part was a little flippant. Still, I expect they did. Some would have, anyway. Others, I might imagine, took on the increasingly pervasive attitudes of fear, suspicion, and hostility toward their neighbors. I wasn’t there though, and I can’t say how they chose their attitudes in such terrible times.

      • Probably we are viewing the same reactions today in the USA. Some are appalled. Some want to help. Some are scared. Some threaten to “escape the country” Some search their houses for places to hide their friends. After a lifetime of wondering how it all happened back in the 30s, I’m getting a front row seat. As my father said as we invaded Iraq, “After fighting in WW!!, I never thought I’d live long enough to see America as the aggressor.” Well, I never guessed I’d live long enough to witness this hate and prejudice in a new century. You are right, we have to decide how to react and we have to vote.

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