Friday, August 13, 2010

the art of living

 What is it we all do on a daily basis but practicing the art of living.  Some of us are more aware of it than others, some more engaged, some less. But learning how to live, how you want to live, it is an art form. It takes practice, diligence, skill, attention. It is the ultimately rewarding art, that most fulfilling creative act whose end point is true growth (even through pain), and ultimately, happiness. 

I have no illusions that this is a simple task. It is incredibly difficult. I would argue that is the most difficult of all art forms. It takes consummate discipline. It requires that everyday when you glimpse your own reflection in the mirror you consciously desire to grow today, to attend to your weaknesses with care, and to make a plan to change them.

Well, I have made a long list and a short list of how to practice the art of living. The short list is more behavioral, little reminders of acts that can help me grow each day. It goes something like this: take walks, drink water, smile, take time to taste your food, be good to someone, notice the weather, stretch, read, watch very little tv, don't consume anything that doesn't nourish you, remind someone how much how love them.

The long list is more of a work in progress. It is those things I believe will make my life the best life I could lead. It is this:

A. Let curiosity rule you. Make everything a question and take time to find every answer.

B. Let your mind expand and be cultivated by the plethora of information that exists in our scientific society.

C. Always be open to viewpoints that are not your own, and be able to make clear rational arguments against them in order to strengthen your own.

D. Oscillate between routine and spontaneity: find space for the extremes of solitary meditation and travel and the gradations in between.

E. Create. Find a skill and hone it. Become a master at many things.

F. Do not become indoctrinated; and try to break yourself from falling into a categorization.

G. Constantly strive to improve.

H. Keep your daily emotions rational and stoic, reserve extreme emotions for extreme situations.

I. Have at least one person in your life whom you can speak openly and honestly with.

J. If possible, live in a community where you know and can rely upon your neighbors.

K. Believe in yourself and your life choices and fight for them.

L. Interact with nature daily: animals, plants, weather, etc.

M. Keep constant awareness of the tyranny of the status quo and confront it.

N. Be present and aware in every thing you do.

O. Only acquire material possessions that have a necessary function or have deep meaning; be able to think about the things you have.

P. Learn to love learning about the past, and decipher meaning from human and natural history.

Q. Be able to explain yourself. Have an opinion. Argue rationally for what you know and believe in. Learn more to be able to make stronger points.

R. Respect your body and use it to create (by farming, carpentry, dance, painting, etc). Be cognizant of the food you put into your body.