This fall, during our ESC orientation, we focused on creating a Rule of Life. A Rule of Life is meant to structure the kinds of lives we want to be living in relationship to Creation, God, and self. This is not meant to be legalistic, but to help us pursue the kinds of lives we want to be living with intention and purpose.
Some things in my Rule of Life include:
- use public transportation, buy clothes secondhand, compost
- begin each day in prayer
- do something active every day
AND 140 days ago I told myself I would:
- “end each day with a painting and reflection”
This is something I have wanted to do for over a year and I finally made the commitment to start. I was afraid I would be too busy, my paintings would be too ugly, I would waste too much paper and it would cost too much—too many “toos”. When you get an idea run with it or it will run away from you. “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert was pivotal in allowing myself to enter into this commitment. Gilbert writes:
“I am a child of God, just like anyone else. I am a constituent of this universe. I have invisible spirit benefactors who believe in me, and who labor alongside me. The fact that I am here at all is evidence that I have the right to be here. I have a right to my own voice and a right to my own vision. I have a right to collaborate with creativity, because I myself am a product and consequence of Creation. I’m on a mission of artistic liberation, so let the girl go” (Gilbert, 96).
I’ve learned that there is a reciprocity between you and the thing you are creating. As much as you’re revealing lines and colors and whatnot on that page, that page is revealing to you the intimacies of the subject you are observing.
I drew a random man at the Episcopal Diocese Convention and left knowing a bit of him even though we didn’t speak. I began noticing how the back of his neck rolled over his collar as he looked up, how he squinted the corner of his eyes to read the screen, how he did in fact have fluffs of hair atop his head where I didn’t notice it before.
On one camping trip I realized I had forgotten my paint supplies before going to bed. I found a stick, scratched the shniz out of a piece of cardboard, spat in the mud, and smothering the scratchy surface with this messy paste. Done.
I’ll spend an hour or just a minute drawing/painting and on the back of the paper I write a memory, reflection, or quote that I would like to carry with me from the day. I have removed myself from the product, and allowed for this to be about the discipline and process. By reflecting and recording my day I am recognizing and respecting the sanctity of it.
“People don’t do this sort of thing because they have all kinds of extra time and energy for it; they do this kind of thing because their creativity matters to them enough that they are willing to make all kinds of extra sacrifices for it” (136).
I have the ability to decorate my life and so I’m doing it.
225 [or] more days to go.
Gilbert, Elizabeth. “BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear”. Riverhead Books, 2015.