Life as an Artist: Update 7: (Life as a Human)

{“Rays of Understanding,” 6 x 6 inches, pen and ink, available here in my shop}

It’s been quite a while since my last Life as an Artist post (a series of posts I started last fall to talk about doing art as a career), and in truth, I”m not sure that what I have to say today will fit in that narrow category, perhaps it would be better classified as Life as a Human, because the past few months I have really been thinking a lot about life in general.

As you may well have deduced by now, being an artist for me is about something much bigger—it’s about living a wonderful, beautiful, rich life—a life that I can look at and truly say that I am really living—really appreciating being alive. A life I can look back on whenever my time is up and say, “I really lived.” Maybe it’s cliche to say these things, or a little touchy-feely, but really, as I’m constantly asking: what is the purpose of all this if you don’t feel like you’re really living?

Last night, I watched the movie Marley & Me, about a couple (that becomes a family) and their crazy, rambunctious dog Marley. Marley dies at the end of the movie (sorry to ruin it for anyone, but I think this is common knowledge), and naturally, the family feels the loss like the loss of a family member, and they look back on how they loved him and how he loved them unconditionally.

While the movie is not breaking any new ground, the message was a good one—I walked away thinking about how we often don’t appreciate someone or something fully until it’s gone. I think we do this a lot in life—we are always thinking about the next thing on our to-do list, the next achievement, the next vacation, and we don’t realize that we are missing this entire moment, right here. Before we know it, we have lived an entire life without really living a single moment.

So, I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately and trying to figure out how they all fit together in my life—how they help me to see my purpose on a large scale, and how they apply to each moment and each small choice.

When you really get down to it, I think that if you can deeply live and appreciate each moment with reverence, then nothing else matters. Or perhaps more accurately, if you live each moment with appreciation and reverence, everything else will take care of itself.

The word reverence came up for me this morning when I was writing in my journal about this same topic. My pocket Webster’s dictionary defines reverence as: awe mingled with respect and esteem. I like that definition. It makes me think of Mary Oliver (the poet) and how each of her poems is in awe of this life, each small moment, each bird and cloud. She truly respects and esteems life. It also makes me think of my continuous proclamations on this blog and in my mind, of how I want to live.

Now I must be honest and admit that the reason I keep talking, writing, reading, thinking, defining, re-defining these things is because I struggle to live this way. It is simple to say “live in the moment, appreciate the moment,” it is much harder to do it—to let your monkey-brain thoughts move through your mental space and not grab onto them, or let them rile you up. Man, do I get riled up! Perhaps it is those of us who get most riled up that are constantly seeking? We just can’t take it any more! So, the honest truth is that my brain is often a battle ground, but I am learning that the calm is just a moment and a choice away, and I am teaching myself to choose to live appreciatively in the moment whenever I can.

So what does this have to do with Life as an Artist? Oh, how about nothing specific, but really everything. Questions are the only answers here:

What do you think would happen if you did your art (or whatever else you love) from a place of deeply living and appreciating each moment with reverence?

What do you think would happen if you were a wife/brother/parent/friend from a place of deeply living and appreciating each moment with reverence?

What do you think would happen if you took care of yourself from a place of deeply living and appreciating each moment with reverence?

This idea is the key to everything. Every book I pick up talks about it, and it just keeps coming ’round and ’round to me. It’s definitely one of those things that is clobbering me over the head these days, and I am trying to understand it. So, I leave you with these thoughts and questions, and a little glimpse of what I’ve been working out in my head these days.

{Two modern books I have found to be helpful on this subject: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and Arriving at Your Own Door by Jon Kabat-Zinn (this is a small book with excerpts from the full book Coming to our Senses. Of course, these ideas are ancient—check out any literature or ancient scriptures from Buddhism, and you are sure to find that people have been struggling with them and setting themselves free for thousands of years.}

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5 Responses to “Life as an Artist: Update 7: (Life as a Human)”


  1. 1 Clara May 6, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Nicole, I also feel like I’m being clobbered (in a good way) by thoughts of “living in the now.” It’s a little like buying a car: when you’re in car-buying mode and have a particular car in mind, it seems as if you see it everywhere you turn. I started out this year with an intention to be more mindful, teamed with being more grateful, and I find that the two reinforce each other.

    Before I go to bed, I’ve started a practice of jotting down three things for which I was grateful that day. Usually they’re small things, which doesn’t, by the way, make them any less meaningful. I’m finding that this small act has fueled my awareness of the moment. So, for example, if I’m grateful that there was very little traffic on my home way from the grocery store, I’m more likely to notice in the future that there’s little traffic on my drive home, which is likely to remind me to be grateful, and on, and on, and on.

    I read recently — in an article about the value of mindful awareness, natch! ;-) — that 80% of our thoughts are about the past (worrying about something that happened, or feeling bad about something we said or didn’t say, etc.) or the future (worrying about something that might happen, wondering what we’re going to do if and when, etc.). It was a shock, in part because it rang so true.

    Like you, I wrestle with this moment to moment, but that just means that I’m more aware, and I’m grateful for that.

    • 2 bluebicicletta May 6, 2010 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks so much for this wonderful comment Clara! I love your idea for thinking about things you are grateful for every day—I think that taking time to do these things really can help to make you more mindful of these little things as they happen! I will have to try that! Lately, I’ve been meditating for a few minutes each morning to give myself some practice at watching my thoughts. It is so interesting (and appalling) to realize, as you say, that such a large percentage of our thoughts are dedicated to the past and future. I have begun to notice what I call the “instant replay” and “instant preplay” games that happen in my brain—basically how I will replay in my head again and again something that happened in the past, or “preplay” how I think a scenario will go in the future. It’s astounding how often I do this! I think recognizing it is half the battle (or maybe 75% of the battle, so little by little I’m getting better at noticing the thoughts and therefore stopping the cycle. Good luck to you!

  2. 3 Era May 8, 2010 at 6:45 am

    I think something else that plays into this topic heavily is routine. Daily life can go by on auto-pilot and it’s important, like Clara said, to remember to notice things!

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot with respect to my relationship. I get into a routine of acting a certain way, having default reactions to certain situations. Sometimes this means that I’m constantly irritated and I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s comfortable, or maybe because I’m not being mindful about how each instant is different and should be approached as such. I’m not sure if I’m communicating this issue properly, but regardless, thanks for making me think about it more!

  3. 4 Clara May 9, 2010 at 7:51 am

    That’s a valuable insight, Era. From time to time I too find myself reacting in a “default” mode, with that underlying feeling of annoyance or dissatisfaction. These are the moments, I think, when it’s useful to try to stop the reaction and just sit calmly with the feeling. Of course, that’s more easily said than done. Good stuff to ponder.

    Nicole, I sometimes think I’m the queen of instant replay. Unfortunately, it’s usually the negative experiences or conversations that I replay, and the icky feelings get replayed along with the thoughts. Good luck to both us in turning that around!

  4. 5 Malea May 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Those are some powerful questions! I will have to ponder and most likely will write a blog post of my own in response…


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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."
~Rumi

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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