Recently a friend was telling me about a trip to Paris, France. She returned entranced with Paris — and it wasn’t the pastries, the museums, the fashion or the language. She was entranced with the art of living that permeated the ways that people walked, shopped, visited, were present in cafés and parks. She realized her deep longing for a more artful life.
Many experiences can awaken this feeling in us, the deep remembering that life can be lived more slowly and abundantly. We don’t have to go to Paris.
My challenge is how to remember the art of living in the midst of very demanding days. I recognize that my current career season of life will eat me up if there is no artfulness — only schedules and calculations and demands.
How do we remember the slower, artful life when we are not a visitor in Paris? Here are a few ways that I am pondering:
- Choose not to participate in the “over-glorification of busy.” Our culture speaks of busyness with a kind of righteousness or machismo. Can Goshen College be a place where students do not become indoctrinated in busyness? How might that affect our whole campus community? How can I help lead toward that?
- Connect my theology of nonviolence with the violence of overwork. Thomas Merton wrote:
To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
- Give and receive friendship in conversations that slow us down and let us speak from our hearts. Conversations like this one (from one of my favorite bloggers, Maria Popova):
“How is your heart?” I recently asked a friend going through a trying period of overwork and romantic tumult, circling the event horizon of burnout while trying to bring a colossal labor of love to life. His answer, beautiful and heartbreaking, came swiftly, . . . : “My heart is too busy to be a heart,” he replied.
- Connect across life stages and seasons. Children and elders are so helpful to those of us in life seasons that are very busy. The only thing worse than being overworked is spending all my time with people who are also overworked! Thank goodness for those of you who are not. Let’s connect.
How are you remembering or longing for artful living?