Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What really matters

This post is not really about art, but I felt the need to share pieces of my life that feed the undercurrent for my work.

This weekend I had to face the fact that our lives are fleeting and temporary. I spent time with a family member who has stage four cancer. She told me she just hopes for more time. That statement keeps haunting me as I sit here and perseverate on all that happened in the last few days. It got me thinking about what matters in life and what really counts in the long run.

Over the last few years, my husband and I have had a lot of conversations and made a lot of changes. We live a quiet life in the country and try to keep things simple. We bought an old farmhouse and have spent the last five years renovating. We keep a garden in the summer and try to provide as much of our own food as we can. We reduce, reuse, and recycle every day. We help each other make time for our passions; art for me and music for him. We work hard to make the focus of our lives spending time with people we love, and doing the things that bring us joy.

We started making these changes as we became more and more disillusioned about what was going on around us. Our society spends too much time being consumers and worrying about having shiny cars and big houses. We want to look like models and live like celebrities. And if that isn't enough, there is no focus on the here and now. Just when you get something accomplished in your life, people are asking you about your next move. You graduate college, it's when are you going to get a job. You find the "right" person, it's when are you going to get married, buy a home, have children, and retire. And god forbid you don't have a five year plan and a desire to climb the corporate ladder.

I'll be the first to admit that these things all used to have meaning for me. I thought that was what we were supposed to strive towards. As I grew into myself more and more, I realized it was not what I wanted.

Even with all the changes my husband and I have made in our lives, it still give me pause to hear those simple words; I just want more time. With as much as I think about making this life count, I still have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy all the little things that make up my day.

I have to put tasks out of my mind and enjoy watching my daughter play and walk across the room for the first time.

I have to put my day job out of my mind when I get home so that I can enjoy my family.

I have to shut off the television and make my way to the studio and pick up a brayer and some ink.

I have to put my need to "produce" work out of my mind and just truly enjoy the act of creating.

So the gift from this incredibly emotional weekend is a lesson; Enjoy each moment in time because it may be your last. Savor it, live it, and love it. Do what really matters.


Unknown said...

Thanks Michelle. Thank you for sharing.

Katka said...

Seems to me like you've got your head on straight.

So many people get trapped in prisons of their own making, chasing after things they think will make them happy.

I admire your honesty.

northwoods trekker said...

we're on the same wavelength
very profound thoughts

Elana Goren said...

I really appreciate your post. I had a similar realization when I lost my dad last year after a long battle with illness. I realized just how short and precious time is in our lives.

Thanks for putting into words what I have been feeling myself.

Unknown said...

This is lovely, Michelle. It brought tears to my eyes and made me miss my friend very very much.

Amy Stoner said...

thanks for the heartfelt comment on my blog and thanks for writing this post on yours. It is funny how so many of ourselves all feel these pulls, urges, worries, etc., and yet we keep them bottled up. I am a HUGE culprit of this but I just had to let a little out on the blog today and I thank you for your words. And I will carry the words of your relative with me too. Thanks

Robyn Sinclair said...

Michelle, I came expecting art and found instead wisdom and humanity. I'm sure you are a great comfort to your loved ones.

Making A Mark said...

Great post Michelle - which I intend to share with a few more people on Sunday

I've come around to exactly the same way of thinking as you and share your disallusionment with the way society has developed. I got to 50 and decided that things had to change - I guess it's to do with realising there's only so much time left - and I need to get on with focusing on the things that really matter!

I've honestly never been able to understand people chasing after the celebrity lifestyle. Do they also really want the celebrity nasty habits and divorces that seem too often to come with that way of living too?