There are many ways we can think about our lives and live it. Some see their lives as prisons of obligation. Some see it as full of work that they sacrifice to. Yes our lives can also be a work of art. Designing a good life is an ancient theme that is missing for many in the current era. Let’s revive your life as your work of art.
To make a work of art takes time. To make a parched wasteland also takes time. To build a prison takes time. What do you do with your time?
Time is a place of choice opened to us in every moment. Choice is a challenge, an opportunity, and a skill of commitment. When we commit we choose to give time to some future purpose or outcome.
If we think of making our work and lives a work of art using the metaphor of molding and shaping a work of art out of clay commitment is how we shape it, add to it, carve away at it. The tools for our molding our work of art are our commitments of “yes” and “no.” When we say “yes” we add to our lives, to our future, and to our time.
We can say yes to marriage, career, hobbies, memberships, friendships, conversations, and how we spend our time. And we can say “no.” We can commit not to do something and not to give our time to it. It is with “no” that we make space for our yesses. We can say no to working more, in order to spend time with the family. We can say no to an extra project to ensure quality on the project we are already doing.
Many people have a history of saying “yes,” but not “no.” The pattern becomes one of pleasing others, heroic dedication, or sacrifice to standards of perfection. Many face challenges by always doing more, and more, and more. “Doing more” is the most primitive strategy there is – the reaction to overwhelm our challenges with effort.
This is like adding clay to our work of art, but never carving away any space, never making a beautiful shape with both adding and subtracting. We can grow a monstrosity so large and unwieldy that we give up on the work of art. We just try to get by with keeping at least a corner of order with commitments squeezing any choice out of our available time.
We need to step back and look at the shape of our lives and our work. Why not your work of art? Why not beauty and value? Why not “no” as well as “yes” to shape the curves of your living arc.
In this question we can encounter our fears, the fears that choose for us, that take away our power of ‘”no.”
Next we’ll explore fear and how it can take the heart out of us. The fear that chooses for us, that steals our time, our choices, and our power.