Artists create art to express something meaningful. Artistic expression helps them understand a deep knowing within. At the same time, they engage others with the significance of that knowledge. It’s not something they can articulate with the same essence and power in any other way. My recent viewing of a production of Vieux Carré by Tennessee Williams helped strengthen my awareness that, day after day, we create our lives in the same way artists or performers express themselves through art. Every moment in our personal and work lives is filled with seeing, feeling, and sensing—each moment understood through our values and life experiences.
That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.
~ Meredith Monk
Artists intend to make something—they use their imagination, they mix and remix, they focus, and they take action. Each moment in our relationships, work, and daily lives gives us the opportunity to do the same—to use our thoughts, words, and values to take action and combine things in new ways—and bring forth something new to our experience that didn’t exist prior to that. Artists have a desire to express themselves to the fullest in a way that takes precedence over everything else.
Artists of all kinds work persistently in their art form to develop their skills. They continually seek ways to grow and evolve in the full expression of themselves. While every artist strives for excellence, they also know they are constantly refining and evolving. They become absorbed in the process. The truth is that we can all grow and evolve like this in creating our lives as well. We can change our perceptions and interpretations of our life experiences.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
~ George Bernard Shaw
It may be that much of the time you are unconsciously going about your daily life experiences and not able to benefit from the choices of expressing yourself with artistry—consciously choosing a path, creatively shaping and reshaping your understandings, and constantly expanding your artistic awareness.
As I reflected on the Vieux Carré production, I realized that—much like the work of an artist—our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. The play, set in a dilapidated building in the New Orleans French Quarter, speaks of seeing, hearing, feeling, and learning. Every single character, and those around them, experienced a reflection of their inner world in each moment. Just like the artist, we do have choices; we can decide what we do and how we make sense of the things around us; and we do get to choose to take action.
It is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.
~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life)
We really do have the ability to create ourselves.