Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Art of Being Human -- Writer's Poke #284

I'm preparing to teach a Humanities class with the title "The Art of Being Human." What a weird title for a class. According to the course description, the course should basically show students how others have attempted to live worthwhile lives.

Admittedly, trying to teach others how to live worhtwhile lives might be going a bit above my paygrade, as they say. My sole hope, really, is just to teach people to examine their own lives. I'd like my students to be able to differentiate between art and artificial.

Unfortunately, many of us live our lives in a "paint-by-numbers" style. Now, I ask you: Can paint-by-numbers be considered art? Sure, the finished product can be pretty, and there's a value to the systematic, ordered approach. But in the end, it's not art.

To me, the true value to living a "worthwhile life" is to avoid living the sort of predetermined life that others would set for you -- whether it be promoted by cultural, familial, or religious traditions, or whether it be simply following the approach to "appropriate" for your particular age or life circumstance.

What specific steps can you take to ensure that you're the artist creating your own life, rather than submitting to being the articifical subject in someone else's portrait?

"How can we surround that which is dying with love?" -- David Whyte

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