Thursday, March 25, 2010

Life As Art

Recently, a member of the Saturday meditation group gave me a couple of articles on mindfulness from the Utne Reader. One of them is called "The Focused Life" and is from a book called Rapt by Winifred Gallagher. She says, at one point, "If you could just stay focused on the right things, your life would stop feeling like a reaction to stuff that happens to you and become something you create - not a series of accidents, but a work of art."

Kathy and I have a friend who is a sculptor. Her works are life size or larger, and are all human figures. Some of them are extraordinarily complicated and on a scale that is hard to imagine. Like any artist, her process is one of constantly changing interrelationship with the art she is creating. There are creative highs complete with manic omnipotence, and shattering lows when it seems that nothing can go right. But still, she keeps her attention on what needs to be done in that moment to complete the piece.

The art of creating our lives has these elements as well, and many more. Even if we are focused and mindful as we move through our day, there are the times when we feel positive, and times when we don't. There are moments of exalted joy, and moments of crushing sadness. We may wake up feeling frightened and alone, and feel grounded and safe by the time we finish breakfast.

Through it all, we can pay attention to what would serve us best to reduce our suffering, and we must also remember that no amount of mindful attention will make us immune from suffering. When we are experiencing upsetting or unpleasant thoughts occurring, however, we do have a choice as to where we place our attention. We always have the ability to return to the reality of the present moment and to pay attention to whatever we are doing in that moment. This will automatically cause the suffering-causing thought to move into the background and not be as important.

Creating art implies that conscious choices must be made. Today, choose wisely where you direct your attention.


No comments:

Post a Comment