The Daily Art of Living


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Photo by Kary Schumpert.

I often think about the creative life and I think of big, vast canvases and lots of paint, or I picture a writer deep in the throes of writing a book, hardly looking up from the page or the computer screen. For whatever reason, I generally picture creativity and daily life as completely separate things, perhaps two sides of the same coin. Weirdly, though, I have never lived that way. My most creative periods have been in the midst of daily life, squeezed in between washing dishes and rushing to work. Also, I am slowly starting to appreciate the creativity that comes in small moments that may not look like art. Sometimes creativity leads to a new solution for a household budget problem. As I grow into my creativity and take ownership of it, I realize that creativity and the art that results from it takes many different forms. I am becoming broader in my definition of and interpretation of both creativity and art.

It’s not just the moments on stage, or the moments on the page or the canvas that are creative. It’s the moments, and breaths, in between that are creative as well. Sometimes, those are periods of percolation where ideas will lead to essays and books or random thoughts will lead to multimedia art. Occasionally, the creativity is in little moments, in temporary art, the creation of a meal, the setting of a table, the stick drawing in the sand, the hitting of a high note in the shower. Definitions and perspectives expand the idea of creativity and art, particularly my own.

The year 2018 has been an adventurous and bumpy and eye-opening one. In the words of Charles Dickens, it was “. . . the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .” I grappled with lots of things, creativity was one of them. I wrote or published very little. In hindsight, though, I realize it has been one of my most creative years. I have gotten very creative in how I solve little problems day-to-day. I have found extreme joy in freedom. I have unearthed creativity and clarity in a newly discovered deep love for myself. It has also been a year of percolation, the period of between. It’s the time of brainstorming and quiet contemplation and back-of-the-burner creativity.

In a mostly solitary year, I have become more open and fragile and strong, all at the same time. And because of the self-love and the openness, I now have a more “fuc&-it!” attitude. I am now ready to create and live and dream, and throw things out there and see what happens. I am ready to take advantage of the spiritual remodeling of my last few years and see what comes of it. Now, I don’t need a positive review, but I am ready to be brave and creative and willing.

I am beginning a huge self-discovery project, and ready to partake of bigger creative projects. I am applying for a couple of writers’ residencies. I have outlined and mapped out a book project. I am also relishing in the art of daily life.

The art of daily life is more than the between time, however. It is making the most of choices in small moments. It is recognizing beauty and art in creating a life. It doesn’t necessarily mean creating photogenic moments in the age of Instagram, although, that can be part of it. Creativity happens in the dark-middle-of-the-night moments of crying and loneliness. It also happens in the sunny moments resting on the patio, drinking a glass of wine. Creativity in daily life is everything. Art in daily life is everything. It’s recognizing the beauty of the moment, and the ugliness of the moment. Art isn’t always beautiful or photogenic. The art of daily life is often ephemeral and invisible, not lasting, yet eternal. It’s in the small moments and the big moments. It’s in the mundane and the spectacular, of sunsets and grocery lists and eloquent texts to your lover/best friend and the scorched eggs in the cast iron skillet. It’s in the celebratory clink of wine glasses and the crashing clinks of glass bottles in the recycling bin. Art is in the silence of a dead car battery and the graciousness of letting in yet another car in the rush hour lane. Art is making the most of haphazard leftovers into a beautiful meal and cuddling together in a moment of sorrow and grief.

Art and creativity come in the daily minutia and also in the big moments of bravery and being fearless and bold in our choices. We create art right where we are: in our choices, in our moments, in our lives. We find creativity and get to those bigger, immortal points, by continuing to show up and being open.

6 comments

  1. Great post, Kary. I, too, find that creativity sneaks up on you in daily life and finally bursts out often when you least expect it or can afford the time to engage it. And yet we must let it out.

    I miss your presence. Hope you are well in all ways.

  2. Once again, a well written essay. Yes, Art and Creativity arrive via our perfunctory activities rather often as well as significant moments. The summation of creativity and art in small moments adds up to success and contentment at the end of each day. You are a skill-full writer and I hope the good Lord will open a door of opportunity with acceptance with an internship in writing.

  3. A wonderful reflection…and wonderful realizations. I’ve thought a lot at times about this creative impulse. We are born to create, in the image of the Creator who made us. Without creating in some form or fashion, we dry up. But that creativity can take so many unexpected forms in unexpected times and places, as you so marvelously point out. For me personally, your words make me realize more deeply that maybe I shouldn’t criticize myself if I’m not always engaged in something “useful.” There are all kinds of usefulness, too… 🙂

    • Thank you, Donnie, for reading and commenting! It IS helpful to realize that creativity takes all types of forms. I really love how you brought up the part about usefulness. Creativity isn’t always useful, and sometimes we need that respite from usefulness. Sometimes, it’s enough just to “do” and reflect. Thank you!!

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