How to Make Your Life a Masterpiece

http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/photo-day-artist-work-japan
Japanese artist Takeo Ogama paints a mythical creature Baku for the Design Fiesta, a bi-annual international art event in Japan on May 22, 2012.

 

Just the other day, over coffee at a cute little French place, a friend and I fell into talking about the creative process. We both agreed that any work of art “becomes” during the creation of it, often surprising even the artist by the form it takes as it evolves. Creativity shows us that a work of art carries its own potential in the artist’s mind and is brought into being by an unidentifiable urge to manifest something beautiful and relevant. A masterpiece needs only an artist to believe in it for it to become.

Later that day with a French coffee buzz still spinning my wheels, I found myself thinking more and more about the word “become.” I love it – for both its simplicity and its complexity. Its meaning has come to represent much of how I view my life and how I choose to live it – on my own terms, as a process of coming into being. What if we all adopted that artist’s approach to life? What might we possibly create?

Dedicated artists understand the mysterious process of creative evolution. One might work on a painting, a novel, a choreography or musical score for weeks, months, or even years, consistently and continually nurturing the growth and development of beauty emerging. The time it takes to create a masterpiece is determined by the artist alone. It’s one of the few things in life for which we all allow a wide berth. There’s no need to rush to the finish line; it will become in its own sweet time.

At any point, but especially in the beginning when not much is there to indicate a masterpiece, trust and belief are essential to get through the uncertain messy stages of blank, empty pages, and chaotic, disorganized voices competing for a place on the canvas. The chaos of creation can bring up feelings of doubt, frustration and insecurity because realizing our potential is something that will always remain a little bit unfinished and we have to be okay with that kind of feeling. Coming into being requires a willingness to get our hands dirty, to wallow in the messiness, relax amidst the confusion, and take risks without knowing how anything will end up.

Although an artist brings their skill and vision to the table when they create, they’re also aware that the outcome will be influenced by history, political climate, culture, relationships, and their own spiritual fire. They don’t fight change; they invite it and use it on their own terms. If we invite and allow influence, while staying true to our purpose, we receive the gift of inspiration to fuel our work and prevent boredom and stagnation. We are not alone and neither should we paint our masterpiece in solitude and without humanity’s combined emotional landscape to show us the depth of our own being. If we open our hearts to the world, it will fill them with beauty and intrigue.

An artist determines a work’s completion based on their own self satisfaction. They alone dictate the potential of any piece. Trust in that potential keeps the artist invested and interested. Sometimes this process can take a lifetime. And if you consider each work of art as part of an entire body of work representing the artist’s overall voice, their full creative vision, then indeed the process does take a lifetime. When we add up our days and consider each one a work of art, what do our overall voice and creative vision express? What are we saying to the world with our days, weeks and years?

Despite all the circumstances, experiences and ideas colliding in ways that don’t yet seem to make sense, as artists of our own existence we have to believe without a doubt that this life, our life, is a masterpiece coming into being. Otherwise, we’ll declare our lives complete enough long before our true potential can be expressed. And from that mindset of “finished” we’ll live out our days, following all the rules, plodding along, simply trying not to get too hurt in the process. It’s a kind of life I’d say is okay, but it’s not a masterpiece.

So, I encourage you to take your tools in hand, whatever they are, and create. Only you know the reason for your coming into being and only you can fill the canvas of your life. Don’t just sit back and wait for it to happen to you; it won’t! For anything to “become” requires nurturing and a little attention. It requires our love. The beauty of the whole thing is that our lives come into being both in the now and in the forever; the paint is always “on the table,” so pick up your brush and get busy.

Thanks everyone for reading – I can’t wait to see your masterpiece unfold!

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