The Art of Living

For as long as I can remember, arts, crafts, gardening, sewing, baking, writing – all things creative – have held a kind of magic and innocence to me. I enjoy creating.

Who doesn’t love the glint of light reflected off the shiny red handles of the metal scissors used in grade school? The smell of paint or a freshly sharpened pencil? Testing and feeling a variety of textures when choosing fabrics for a new sewing project? The wonder of looking at a blank page, screen, canvas or square of soil, imagining the end result?

Sadly, as I approached my forties and had the opportunity to look back at my life, it dawned on me how many countless hours I had spent in what suddenly seemed like meaningless pursuits. Drawing, painting, sewing, writing, growing things I no longer owned or never used, but have filed or stored away just in case.

Those paintings I did end up displaying, often, even now, seem less than they could’ve been, had I felt more free to express myself and/or learned the proper techniques of colour mixing and other intricacies of art.

Worse than that, I realized that throughout life, rather than using my time, energy and imagination to create a great life, I spent much of it on arts, crafts, and other creative activities as an escape, a diversion from life, leading to a life lived a little less in the process.

Instead of facing reality and creating a better life and making changes where needed, I continued in what I’d become used to – trying to balance the demands of everyday life and filling every quiet spare moment with some or other creative pursuit and failing that, playing Jewel Saga – and getting deeper and deeper stuck in a life I dreaded, surrounded by objects of mediocre beauty.

It’s tempting to look back and wish things were different. Yet now, almost six years after this insight hit me, it’s clear that everything happened for a reason. Every silly little thing I’ve ever done or created has its place in the tapestry of my life and the lives they and I have touched.

If even one aspect was different, I believe things would not have been falling into place as poetically as they currently are. Most importantly, if everything was already ‘perfect’, I wouldn’t have been asking, searching and longing for more, for direction and purpose in life – my heart and eyes would likely have been blind to the coincidences, synchronicities, and serendipity that led to the miracle of finding love. I would’ve missed out on many amazing experiences and wouldn’t even have realized it.

Art is sacred and, in an ideal world, should be used for good, making life even more beautiful and creating awareness of reality, not distracting from it. But maybe, just maybe, arts, crafts and all things creative can, in humility, distract us from the harshness and ugliness of life, just long enough to keep us going, protecting us from having to face things we’re not equipped or ready to deal with.

Maybe they are like short phrases or sentences of humour or deep insights in an otherwise long, boring chapter, ensuring we don’t give up, but keep going until we reach the beautiful life we’ve always imagined. It is when you reach the best part that you see it was beautiful all along. All of it was part of the same beautiful and unique story, which is your life.

GREG RAKOZY AMAURY SALAS

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