Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Moments That Matter

If we agree that people, art, and nature comprise many of the moments that allow us to look within ourselves and realize who we are in the world, then we would come to an important conclusion: It's critical to pay attention, especially to the people around us and to the world we live in. If we don't, then we've become busy dying instead of becoming busy living.

The natural world may be God's handiwork, but I really am partial to the young and hopeful apprentice, humanity. From the dawn of time, people have been creating art. I'd like to believe that art nourishes us with an unspoken message: "Here is some art. Enjoy it. Now, get out and create some more art of your own." And this, I believe, is just as important as enjoying and responding to the moments we experience in nature.

So make a point to enjoy some art. Listen to some music and later, watch a movie. Visit a museum or check in on a website that brings art directly to you. There are countless moments that are waiting and won't be discovered unless you make the effort to look for them. No one knows what you can create until a moment moves you to inspiration.

Make art a part of your life, watch for those moments that speak just to you, and respond in kind by creating something that provides someone else a moment that they'll remember. It's all a matter of consciously looking for those moments and then making them relevant in your life. Just keep looking.
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Ferris Bueller's Day Off, written and directed by John Hughes

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Get Busy Living

Evergreen, Colorado

The Sunday Night Movie at the House of Tystad a while back was The Shawshank Redemption. We watched it on DVD and the video quality was amazing. Not all movies made 18 years ago hold up to the test of time, but this one really does. It's a beautiful film that anyone who loves movies really must see. Ask around and you'll be surprised at how many people count it among their favorite movies of all time. If you watch it for the first time or again for the 50th time, you'll be glad you did.

One of many reasons to love the film is its message to "Get busy living or get busy dying." That line of dialogue is taken verbatim from the Stephen King short story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" (upon which the screenplay is based), which was one of four stories in the 1982 King book Different Seasons. Different Seasons also contains the stories "Apt Pupil" (also made into a film), "The Breathing Method," and "The Body," which was made into the film Stand By Me (an outstanding movie that warrants its own discussion).

As an aside, The Shawshank Redemption was adapted for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont, who has directed other films based on Stephen King's books. He also created the AMC television series "The Walking Dead" and is reportedly a close friend of Stephen King.

The case can be made that Stephen King, who is known to be a huge fan of rock and roll, borrowed the idea for the line "Get busy living or get busy dying" from the Bob Dylan lyric "He not busy being born is busy dying" from the song "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," which appeared on the classic 1965 Dylan album "Bringing It All Back Home." The lines are strikingly similar and it would make sense that Stephen King would be appreciative of Dylan's genius with the English language.

In any case, the message we get from watching The Shawshank Redemption - probably from Dylan, through King, through Darabont - is that we each need to make a simple decision to either embrace life and live it to its fullest... or be satisfied with the status quo. I won't elaborate on that issue here, but I will say that one of the things that inspires me the most and motivates me to live my life to the fullest is art. Specifically, film as art. And that brings us full circle. Creativity breeds creativity and art fosters art.

Thank you, Bob Dylan. Now I'm busy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Peace, Dogs, and Spiritual Moments

I was looking for peace. I just took my dog Pablo the Chihuahua out for a walk around the neighborhood and, between the exercise and the near-death experience brought on by an angry Irish Setter on the loose, I think we both got a lot out of it. Pablo got some serious cardio and a newfound realization that he isn't nearly as intimidating as he thinks he is (a hard life lesson for a Chihuahua). I got to breathe in some fresh air and feel an important connection to nature and the value of life... my own and my dog's.

One of the most peaceful people I've ever known was a religious man, a man of the cloth. He was the leader of his congregation when I knew him and I count him among the most influential people I've ever known. He used to say that his most spiritual moments came not in a house of worship and not among other people, but late at night when he took his dog outside for a walk. He said that having that time alone with his dog, walking in the darkness, he was able to reach a point of having an honest and satisfying conversation with God. Those moments gave him peace.

I'll never forget that lesson, that we can sometimes be surprised where we can find our own peace. My friend clued me in to the idea that we need to pay attention to the moments that come unexpectedly and allow us to look deep within ourselves and realize who we are in the world. And that these moments can bring us true peace.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Making Everybody Happy

Author and blogger Beth Revis wrote a terrific post a couple of days ago that really got me thinking. She started out by saying that she has a friend who hates puppies. Hard to believe, but apparently there are people like that. Beth then mentions people hating Harry Potter, chocolate, and bacon (also hard to believe) before leading up to dealing with negative book reviews.

Her point is that no matter how great a book is - just like no matter how cute, cuddly, and adorable a puppy is - there will always be someone who doesn't like it. Beth is gentle in her approach, concluding with the idea that people are just different. I prefer to think of it as the problem dwelling within the puppy-hater, but that's just me.

The lesson I'm reminded of with Beth's post is that there is no way in the world that you can make everybody happy. It's a lesson I've tried to learn, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and is one that I need reminded of occasionally. I'm glad Beth reminded me that people are different and you should never be surprised at what some people cannot stand.

But just for the record, I absolutely love puppies.