We must remind ourselves as often as possible that our true life is not this external, material life that passes before our eyes her on Earth, but that it is the inner life of our spirit for which the visible life serves only as a scaffolding — a necessary aid to our spiritual growth . . . We must remind ourselves and one another that the scaffolding has no meaning or importance, expect to make possible the erection of the building itself.
We were supposed to go to a “closing” for the mortgage today to what we hope will be our new home. The sellers cancelled the meeting about an hour before the meeting this morning and pushed the closing out to Friday.
Waiting to purchase and move into a new home is not a life or death issue, at least in our case. It’s just frustrating.
Our progress through the purchase of a new home has been a series of hoops to jump through or a type of scaffolding as Tolstoy would say.
My mother and I have felt that it has been a test of our character that feels like its own kind of spiritual journey.
Are there any events in your life that would be best treated as the scaffolding of your life, not to be taken too seriously except in support of your inner life or spiritual growth?
One of the temptations of the artist is to believe himself solitary, and in truth he hears this shouted at him with a certain base delight. But this is not true. He stands in the midst of all, in the same rank, neither higher nor lower, with all those who are working and struggling. His very vocation, in the face of oppression, is to open the prisons and to give a voice to the sorrows and joys of all. This is where art, against its enemies, justifies itself by proving precisely that it is no one’s enemy. By itself art could probably not produce the renascence which implies justice and liberty. But without it, that renascence would be without forms and, consequently, would be nothing. Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society even when perfect is but a jungle. That is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.
What authentic creation does the art of your life give to the future?
Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real. Love, and so art and morals, is the discovery of reality.
As much as we’d like everything to meet our needs and desires, there is thing called reality that artists and writers struggle to understand.
Psychologists tell us that babies feel that life is all about them and their needs, and when we get older we must embrace the reality that the world does not revolve around us. Murdoch seems to be saying the same thing in this quote that I found in a wonderful collection of quotes about love in the book The Spirit of Loving.
Yet, the discovery of something other than oneself can be more than a process of growing up. It can be a liberation and an expansion of our spirit and talents. The magic of discovering we are part of something beyond our individual self teaches us that we have the power to create reality for more than ourselves.
We have the choice to love, the choice to create art, and the choice to live by morals or standards that are good for the collective.
How are you choosing to love, live and create art today?
Almost everyone who reads my blog is an artist. You may not look upon your work as art, but if you are creating anything original with what you do, in my view, you are creating art.
Some art is uninspiring, derivative, or mediocre. I doubt that anyone reading this blog is creating that kind of art. Some of the books that I’m currently reading got me to thinking about the legacy of our art and life.
I’ve finally gotten around to reading the biography of Steve Jobs at the same time that I’ve started reading the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
The biography of Steve Jobs is brilliant, though I can’t wondering if I would like Steve Jobs if I had worked for him. Yet, there’s no denying he was a great artist, and left a legacy of innovation that touched millions if not billions of people.
Then, there is the opposite end of the spectrum, the quiet artist. In the first chapter of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain describes a different kind of artist. A social artist who was shy, quiet and strong in a different way. Her name was Rosa Parks. She too affected the lives of millions of people around the world with a different kind of courage and quiet strength.
Today, I am celebrating the art of a quietly strong artist, my mother. Over her life, she has been creating works of art that have only been seen by her family. She created the paintings on this page for my kids and me. I’m afraid my photos of her work don’t do it justice!
My mom studied art at Lake Forest College in 1947, after graduating a year early from high school because she skipped a grade growing up. She was quite clever in so many ways.
She was offered a full scholarship for college, but her father, my grandfather refused to accept charity, so she didn’t finish college then. It would be over thirty years later that she would graduate from college in 1984, with a degree in business. She worked very hard and went on to work in the Department of the Army Budget Office in the Pentagon in Washington D.C. around the same time I moved back from New York to live in Chicago.
In recent years, she has created several paintings that she has given to me so that I could have original art in my house. I don’t have her talent for visual art, though both of my boys do.
My mother taught me to never give up on being an artist, no matter what restrictions your world or life puts in your way. It’s because of her to a large degree that I don’t give up on my artistic aspirations. I just hope that I can be half the artist she has been.
While it’s tempting to think that the world wouldn’t move ahead without people like Steve Jobs or Rosa Parks, I agree with words of Mother Theresa:
There are no great actions, only small actions done with great love.
Created with love, the art of my mother’s life, and my life and your life is just as important as anyone else’s. Is it possible that our art carries the vibration of the love in which we created it? I believe it does. Therefore, creating art with love is the most important choice you can make for creating a worthy legacy. I’m very grateful that I grew up with that kind of artist.
From what I can tell, creating art for love’s sake is the ultimate message that Steve Jobs wanted his biographer to articulate in his biography, so that his children could know his motivation for all that he did.
What would your biographer say about you and the art of your life?