The Art of Everyday Living

The Art of Everyday Living

Laurence G. Boldt

You can experience your everyday life as art by bringing to it the qualities of the artist – inspiration and absorption, creativity and resourcefulness, play and delight. But first, unwind. No one can live as an artist who feels anxious, knotted up in fear. Fortunately, there are only two great fears – the fear that life is going to end and the fear that it isn’t. It is easy to see that the fear of death arises from attachment to the temporal – from holding on to what must be let go of. But why should we fear living?

We fear living because we don’t believe we are adequate to life. Tangled in the mumbo-jumbo of conditioned beliefs, we get so hung up on limitation that we fail to recognize our basic adequacy as human beings. Denying limitation or obsessing on it keeps us knotted up in fear. Artists play with limitation. They neither deny it, nor are they overwhelmed by it. There are only so many words in any language, but that doesn’t keep the poet from writing. There is only a certain range of color the eye can see, but this doesn’t keep the painter from painting. There are a limited number of notes that we can hear, but that doesn’t keep the composer from composing. The artist accepts the limitations of form, not with fear and dread, but as the starting point of creation.

You can be the artist of your life by recognizing that, for all of your limitations, you are basically adequate to life. For all of its difficulties, life is basically adequate for you. Accept that, while it may not fit some imaginary conception of perfection, the world is basically adequate; and you are basically adequate to the world. Be here now with what is, and play with the stuff of your life. If you have twelve crayons in your box, use your creativity and resourcefulness to make the best picture you can with thee. Don’t spend your time worrying that someone else has forty-eight or sixty-four crayons. As you are, you are basically adequate to life.

Your basic adequacy is not won or done. It is not because you own a home or because you have a good job, not because you have a big bank balance or because you have a certain relationship, not because you are American or politically correct. Your basic adequacy is in your breath, in your beating heart – in your life. You are adequate to life because you are life. You have all you need – a heart, a body, an imaginative mind, a basic connection with all of life. You have an earth to walk on. It has gravity to hold you. It has water and fire, plants and trees, mountains and valleys. It’s an adequate earth. The sky is adequate. It has sun and moon. It has stars – not too many, not too few. As you begin to attune to the adequacy of life all around and within you, you will see ever more opportunities for creative play. Even as the artist accepts the tools of his craft and creates with these, accept all the stuff of your life and creatively play with it.

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