We’re finally here after months of waiting: The Art Gallery of Living. J What took so long? I first had to learn what it means to live before I could share a couple of lines on the “art of living”. So what have I been doing all these years? To be honest, I really don’t know. I was living so fast a lot of it is a blur. LOL! I’ve been living in the future mostly with my mind and focus on what I want to have but did not, what I wanted to do but just could not seem to do in the now. But that doesn’t mean I did nothing to make the future happen in the now, for that’s exactly what I did. I was busy.
Yet I did not believe I was living because my present did not look like the gifts I was giving myself in my imagination and dreams. Nothing seemed to come together; at least not for very long. Why or why not? Because one cannot live in the present with their mind in the future for the future becomes the present and passes you by and you wonder “when did I get here”?
So during this season in my life I have decided to slow down my thought processes to run, I mean walk in sync with the speed, sorry pace, that my body and circumstances have decided is best for me. I have decided to pay attention to each moment of each day so I may not miss anything, positive or negative because there is a lesson, a gold nugget in everything. We just have to be open enough and objective enough, hungry enough to learn, then we will be able to see what is sitting, or standing right in front of us, and that it is exactly what we needed after-all-along. Sometimes at first glance it is not/was not what we desired because when we were on fast-forward we couldn’t see what we were missing anyway. J Zoom-a-zoom zoom.
Slowing down the pace of living has been the best thing for me in every way. Life is like walking through an art gallery or the Louvre in Paris: you cannot run through and expect to come away inspired, blessed, awed, filled with information you did not have before, all in one day. You may run into other tourists, or a security guard, or worse yet, a wall. And usually we don’t start to really live until we have hit a wall and come face-to-face with our mortality. Then maybe we want to learn to carpe diem – seize the day. The art of living takes time.
I am learning to appreciate each day as it comes no matter what is or is not happening. I am learning to be nicer to myself and less judgmental of me, for this allows me to be merciful and non-judgmental towards others. I am learning to give myself long foot soaks and massages, slow manicures and pedicures just because I am who I am, and they make me feel more human. J And I like them. I’m learning to allow myself those extra minutes or hours in bed after I have worked hard singing, writing, teaching, preaching and traveling. Most of all I’m learning to focus on God more and me less because He has a bigger head than I do, and He is filled with great thoughts about me, and wonderful plans for my life.
The art of living for me now means putting God first in everything so I can see what I have been missing all these years as I was speed-racing through life, ‘cause I thought that’s how you really live before you die. But since God is the Creator of all life, Who best to listen to and dwell with than the One Who understands how you are wired and put together? Like I said, I am learning. This is an on-going lesson at every grade in life. We never graduate from this class for we are born with the propensity to do things on our own. (Remember the terrible two’s?) But the art of living (and the steadfast love and forgiveness of God) says if you make a mistake on the canvas you can paint over it and do it again, or you can reshape the clay, etc. That’s what He does. Yep, that pounding you felt, that was God squashing your clay for another try. Ouch!
I am learning to forgive myself for not being perfect or as perfect as others have expected me to be. After all, no matter what my calling is in life, I am human first too. I’ve gotten off the merry-go-round and hopped on a roller coaster because it is more exciting. Going around in circles gets you nowhere and just makes you dizzy. Keeps you moving, but . . . boring and bored. Life is meant to be more like a roller coaster with ups and downs. The art of living says to “ask the right questions” when life is an uphill climb and then a downhill drop: “What can I learn from this current event in my life? What is God, the universe, my body, etc. saying to me through this situation?” There are positives and negatives, pros and cons in every challenge. The art of living says that we take them all and deal with them, not allowing any of them to leave center-stage of our lives until we have milked the cow dry. I know, maybe I should have said “until the fat lady sings” but most of us are trying to become healthy so eventually the singing fat lady will no longer be fat.
I am learning that my feelings are valid but I don’t have to let my emotions control me or decide what I will, or will not do. I’ve given myself permission to listen to my opinions too and dissect them, but then to place them beside what God says so I may end up with the best life’s scenario for me. I am learning that no one can love me better than I can love myself, and I learn how to love myself by basking in, and embracing God’s love for me. One of the Ten Commandments says, “Thou shalt love your neighbor AS you love yourself.” [Emphasis mine.] (Please, if you don’t love yourself, don’t practice on me.)
For me the art of living means that I no longer subject myself to painful situations and dangerous-for-me people who don’t have a clue of who I am, or why I’m on this earth. The art of living is realizing that life is one continuous line. Sure there is a past, a present and a future, but it is all the same to God, and since I am made in His image, then it is all the same to me too. I am who and what I am today because of what I did yesterday many days, months, and years ago. When did the line of life stop and start again? It never did; it has always been.
The art of living teaches that life is precious and life is short, and family and true friends are more important than acquiring money and material things. The art of living may advise from time to time and in certain situations to “don’t sweat the small stuff”, but we cannot live that way concerning all things. The Bible says “it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine.” So yes, pay attention to the small stuff, but just don’t let them ruin your life. They don’t have to have the last say and they don’t have to dictate the rest of our lives. But the art of living says to respect life and respect everything that life sends your way just for what it is, because it is in your life for a reason; whether expected or unexpected, on purpose or “by accident”. Nothing surprises God.
The art of living is teaching me to not allow the negative memories to have more weight in my life than the positive ones. And when I find myself ruminating and experiencing negative emotions and physical and mental Vietnam flashback-epileptic fits because of them, to spend time with the Lover of my soul for healing. Life cannot be spent riding down memory lane no matter what kind of vehicle you’re in, who’s driving, or how fast or slow you’re cruising. Is that your gps talking? She said take the next exit tout de suite.
I am getting on with living now in this art gallery called “life”, stopping to look at each piece for as long as I need and desire, taking away from each moment what I want to enhance who I am and the me I am becoming, so I can help somebody else. Because that’s why we are here: to help somebody become all they can be as we too are becoming all we can be. The art of living is succeeding in helping someone no matter how small the deed may seem to you, or to them. (And you don’t have to brag and boast about it either to the entire world. The art of living says to do it in secret, maintain their dignity, and let God reward you.) If they are empowered to advance towards their purpose and life’s destiny, YOU have then become a success! Period. The art of living is learning to see the bigger picture (and there is a bigger picture), to see our lives through the eyes of God and not our economic situation or status, not our physical beauty or physique, and not by how many Facebook, Twitter and Myspace friends we have.
The art of living is realizing that we are more than the eyes can see, the ears can hear, and the hands can touch and hold. There is a “me” I have never seen or met and I am looking forward to seeing her with every passing day. Oh heck, wait. I am seeing her everyday. LOL! Anyhoooo, I love what Morgan Freeman’s character says in the movie The Shawshenk Redemption, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” I’ve chosen door #1 Monty Hall. And so what about you? What are the lessons you are learning and can teach others about the art of living? Write them down because one day you’re going to meet someone who needs to hear from you, even if it’s yourself. That’s why I wrote this blog, as a reminder to myself, and for all those who may want to read it, to LIVE. “And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.” (Habakkuk 2:2) [Amplified Bible] Hi ho whoa Sally Silver! Tonto? Peace.