slow down, be kind.
And don't forget to have
art in your life-
music, paintings, theater, dance,
~ Eric Carle
Maybe because it's summer and actually warm here in San Francisco, my most recent post (7/20) and this one are focused on simple pleasures and simple enjoyment in life. Many of my blogs do address slowing down and simplifying, but in a more focused and introspective way.
Today I simply am reminded and want to share that reminder with you, that life can be simpler and filled with all kinds of art that inspire, renew, nourish and bring joy and/or a sense of oneness. As the quote above includes sunset as art, it can clearly be interpreted very broadly. The dictionary defines art in part as something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.
The quote seems to be purposefully vague in not specifying how to have art in your life. That is up to you. Do you witness it or do you create or participate in creating it? Or maybe both. Which forms call to you? Which forms make your heart sing or lift your mood or make you ponder the meaning of life? Which ones bring you great joy? Which ones make you feel one with the Universe and life?
Allow yourself to notice where you are called to participate in or witness art and which forms resonate with you. Allow them to guide you to connect through your senses, to yourself and to the world around you.
Rest is not idleness,
and to lie sometimes on the grass
under trees on a summer's day,
listening to the murmur of the water,
or watching the clouds float across the sky,
is by no means a waste of time.
~ John Lubbock
We are having exceptionally warm weather in the SF Bay Area this week, where summers are usually foggy and chilly. I visited a friend who has a beautiful home in the Berkeley Hills. She and her husband have done a lot of work on their yard/garden; it is a beautiful refuge and respite full of flowers and fruit trees, a vegetable garden and a beautiful patio shaded naturally by flowering trees and bushes.
We sat in the patio in comfortable reclining garden chairs, drinking fruit-flavored water and talking for several hours. My friend commented a few times that she seldom simply sits and enjoys her garden, instead spending time weeding or pruning and doing other tasks. Rarely does she take the time to simply be, feeling the air, watching the clouds, listening to the wind, the birds, the insects, the planes overhead and the passing trains, distant but audible.
Rest and relaxation are often perceived as idleness (which is seen as negative) in this culture based on our heritage of a long-ago Puritan work ethic. We often feel guilty if we simply sit and do nothing but BE. Enjoying the moment, the delicious feel of the air, the sun, the wind are simple pleasures that we seldom allow ourselves. Or if we begin to feel them, we may become restless ( an interesting word if dissected!) or anxious and want to return to doing something.
Can you allow yourself today, even 5 minutes of simply feeling what is, of simply being and experiencing the sun, the air, the sounds, the sights, of simply taking in what is? I guarantee you will feel refreshed and renewed!
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley