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Painting by John William Waterhouse

We use our life to experiment with the truth. — Thich Nhat Hanh

*

Because we have not made our lives to fit
our places, the forests are ruined, the fields, eroded,
the streams polluted, the mountains, overturned. Hope
then to belong to your place by your own knowledge
of what it is that no other place is, and by
your caring for it, as you care for no other place, this
knowledge cannot be taken from you by power or by wealth.
It will stop your ears to the powerful when they ask
for your faith, and to the wealthy when they ask for your land
and your work. Be still and listen to the voices that belong
to the stream banks and the trees and the open fields.

Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.

— Wendell Berry

*

“One form of containing ideas can be found in proverbs, for instance, “the unimaginative mind is paralyzed by its own doubt.” Amidst great uncertainties, we can have deep doubts, and that can turn into a form of paralization, the inability to move in the midst of all the changes. Related to that is William Blake’s idea that “a culture is a totality of imaginative power.” So when we see the political parties in the houses of congress in gridlock, we can intuit that the problem is a lack of imagination. And sticking with Blake, he wrote that “a wise person has a pattern in mind into which everything they know fits and into which everything they don’t know could fit.” In a sense, he’s talking about a person’s inner worldview, which in terms of imagination, is equal to the world.

— Michael Meade

There’s a lot of advice about how to live a true life. We put on a harness of the belief system we are given, usually. If it doesn’t really fit, if it leads us astray, you could say our little experiment with truth has failed. Sometimes that takes a lifetime to get that feedback. Whoops.

Some people are worth listening to and some aren’t. In any case, the person most important in your search for finding your own true life lives inside you. If truth really is a “pathless land,” as Krishnamurti maintained, we’re on our own. We’re going to need good instincts plus the ability to question and listen intently.

That sounds like the definition of an artist to me. We look, listen and dream. We learn not to take things for granted but to constantly examine and re-examine. We are arrested by beauty, by ephemera, by energy fields and auras. We can’t help it. We’re “sensitives.”

In a world that pushes us to stick to the mechanics of life, we are the dreamers. We can’t stop noticing another reality. Like cats watching ghosts and phantoms, we know a world we don’t talk about but unlike the matter-of-fact felines, we can create art out of our perceptions. When it all comes together in a burst of galvanizing energy, we often experience a catharsis. It’s akin to lovemaking. Skill, spontaneity, inspiration and knowledge flow together to create something new.

The world needs these impractical people, no matter how irritating and irresponsible they appear to society. We give beauty and meaning to a world that is starved for it whether it knows it or not.

Whether the world thanks us or not, pays us or not, encourages us or not, it needs us to be who we are. We have gifts to give.

Painting by Rebecca Laveille Guay

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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