This is a somewhat unorthodox posting. With it I hope to convey a sense of what helped propel my wife and I on our unconventional journey of living large with less. To say it has turned out even better than we anticipated would be an understatement as it has allowed us to explore alternative ways of being.
For example, I am reminded of an incident during our period of home ownership. My brother and I were chatting on the phone about some painting I needed to do but had postponed due to my writing and he quipped, “So put down your pen and pick up the paintbrush.” And that, in so many words, is the type of trade-off I tired of making. As Ralph Waldo Emerson famously remarked, “The writer shall not dig.” Or paint or mow.
Suffice it to say that the joys of home ownership did not include manual labor for me. I maintained the lawn for exercise until our mower died after several years and to prevent the yard from going to pot I hired a guy to take care of it until we sold our house. What I yearned to do was “put down the paintbrush and pick up my pen” and so I did.
While I’ve written hundreds of articles, finishing a book as escaped me to date. Yet I was thinking the other day that my greatest creative act is the art of my life. As Henry David Thoreau said, “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” And it was famed black belt Bruce Lee who said: “I have always been a martial artist by choice, an actor by profession, but above all, am actualizing myself to be an artist of life.”
Call me a philosopher poet but the creative life has always appealed to me and this quote from Pierre Bonnard really hits home: “What attracted me was less art itself than the artist’s life and all that it meant for me: the idea of creativity and freedom of expression and action. I had been attracted to painting and drawing for a long time, but it was not an irresistible passion; what I wanted, at all costs, was to escape the monotony of life.”
And artist J. Stone reiterates the point: “The most visible creators I know of are those artists whose medium is life itself, the ones who express the inexpressible. They neither paint nor sculpt—their medium is being. Whatever their presence touches has increased life. They see and don’t have to draw. They are the artists of being alive.” I don’t know about you, but I want to be an artist of being alive!