I should know better. You would think that after learning a lesson over and over again that I would have it figured out by now. But it seems that if the situation changes slightly, I forget my hard-won wisdom.
In the last few years, I have found delight spending my free moments as an art student learning to paint impressionistic landscapes. Layer by layer I strive to build a work of art. Yet, inevitably, I clutter the final stages by adding too much detail instead of the mere suggestion of what I am representing. My medium is forgiving and I can fix the clutter, painting out the excess and trying again for the sparseness that I love.
Real life isn’t quite so easy to fix.
We live in a day and time that worships the excess. We schedule too much. We eat too much. We work too much. Our kids are in too many activities. Our homes are merely places we sleep, not places where we grow. There is no breathing room to discover the art of living, the joy of relating to real people sitting across the table from us.
Years ago a book transformed my life and introduced me to Margin – the white space around the words of a page – breathing room, if you will. I came to understand that we are stewards of time, a resource that is limited and precious. Because of that, I edit my life carefully and I’ve found that it has to be done on a continual basis. I’ve become ruthless with my calendar and prune away unimportant activities and schedule plenty of room for the things that matter. Now, with paintbrush in hand, I am learning to edit all over again. In my art, I have to make careful decisions about what to omit and what few things are worth incorporating.
A life well lived is much like a good painting. It is often more about what you leave out than it is about what you include.
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