Art, Gratitude & Living Well

At the céilidh!

 

Voltaire once said that, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”  This was my thought as I headed out to a céilidh, a traditional Gaelic social gathering, this past weekend.  What a party! I felt I was in Scotland with all the music of bagpipes, fiddles, harps, accordions and Gaelic choirs.

“Living well” is one of those nebulous concepts that is difficult to quantify, much less experience to the fullest extent.  It is something that we must define for ourselves before we can know the reality of the promise.  We know the possibility exists, but does it exist for us?

At our table, a man was celebrating his 87th birthday.   When asked if he would give his age, he replied:  “I don’t mind giving my age; I’m just glad that I made it this far.” And that is when it occurred to me that time was fundamental in fashioning a meaningful existence. Living well is giving worth to our time.  We live in a finite existence; no amount of effort will generate an extra hour.  Even second is an opportunity.

We owe gratitude to those who choose to follow an artist’s calling, many of whom have little assurance that their chosen vocation will generate a monetary reward.  The céilidh came into being because musicians and singers allocated years to their creative endeavours.  So it is with other artists, who define their “living well” by what they produce, whether a painting, a poem, a musical score.    Our lives are enriched, when we use our time to listen, to support and participate.  This too, is living well.

By the way, I’m thinking of taking up the harp….

 

43 Comments

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you so much for stopping by!! I am following your blog, but I haven’t been receiving your notifications so have “unfollowed” and “followed” again! So glad that we have reconnected. 🙂

  1. Lori Lipsky

    I’ve been focused on work recently and busy there, but now am catching up on your sites, and seeing what I’ve been missing.

    I appreciate the art and quotes you share here, Rebecca. Loved this thought of yours: “We owe gratitude to those who choose to follow an artist’s calling.”
    How is the harp playing going?

    1. Clanmother

      I am so very sorry for the late response. I just returned from following the bagpipes in the Scottish Highlands (in and out of WIFI). It is good to be back and reconnect with the blogging community, although I think I left my heart in the Highlands…

      “My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
      My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
      Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
      My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.”

      As for the harp playing…well, I have found a teacher, which is a start!!! 🙂

  2. Emmet Cullen (@luditetech)

    Hi [from another Gealic epicentre and home to the céilí (Irish pronunciation: [ˈkeːlʲiː]) … oh… and the harp, of course!; Dublin, Ireland],

    I stumbled upon your blog whilst researching the terracotta warriors for an art project and, I too, just had to commend you on the clarity and positivity of your voice.

    Unfortunately [for me!], when I hear a term like ‘live well’, I cannot help but feel a certain pressure to suddenly do something ‘better’ than that which I’m doing at that particular moment. I often, in such circumstances, attempt to concentrate on simply ‘living’ [not living ‘well’ or ‘badly’, for that matter, but just ‘living’ or ‘being’]. Not easy to ‘do’, obviously, but I imagine it involving somehow releasing oneself from ones own ‘value’ judgements about ones life, the one that has gone before and that which is still to come [forgiveness and acceptance perhaps?].

    It probably sounds like I’m merely being pedantic and arguing about semantics or trying to push a dogma but this is sincerely not my intention. I do believe that there is something to be said for ‘being’…

    Go raibh maith agat agus failte romhat [translates literally from Irish as: ‘May goodness and fortune be with you’ but really, because this is not the middle ages, just means ‘Thank you and good luck!’].

    Emmet.

    1. Clanmother

      I am absolutely delighted that you stopped by and added so much depth to this conversation. There is indeed a pressure to “do better.” Many times we feel that we have, in some indefinable way, fallen short of the ideal. We strive to bring meaning to our days and yet, when we look back, those special moments become vague or forgotten within the folds of our personal histories. I agree with you wholeheartedly – the only time we have is now…and that is the time for “being.”

      I’ve been reading about mythology these past couple of weeks and have been interested in the writings of Joseph Campbell. Here is a quote that resonated with me.

      “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

      I look forward to our ongoing dialogue! Welcome to a new week and a new adventure…

  3. Dina

    I don’t know what happened that I lost this post, Rebecca, never mind, I found it now! 🙂
    This evening must have been a very good warm up for Scotland! 🙂 It sounds lovely, in every aspect.
    Living well. I’m at a point where I have to take rearrange a few things in life, to adapt to new circumstances. I have just reread our conversation again concerning chances and choices and you have inspired me to see new chances for well being and good living. I’m very grateful for your kind and wise words, Rebecca.
    Last week the great actor and humanitarian Karl Heinz Böhm died. As I read the obituary of Beate Wedekind, I was deeply touched: “Don’t waste your life!” 🙂 Share your wisdom and well-being, don’t waste your life, was his legacy.

    http://www.thenewafrica.info/karlheinz-boehm-obituaries/

    Big hug to you, my dear!
    Dina ❤️

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you so much for the obituary of Karl Heinz Böhm. As you know, I have been reading about mythology lately, specifically the “hero’s journey.” Without doubt, Karl Heinz Böhm’s life was a hero’s journey, one that will inspire new generations to take up his work, to carry on. I think that is what we all want. We are not running a race, but a relay, where the baton is passed from person to person – knowing that the journey is never over. In our existence we are structured in time and space, always moving forward. We cannot re-live, but we can make memories for ourselves and other. I love how you said “rearrange” “adapt.” They are the outcome of thoughtful reflection, of making life-affirming choices that resonate within our being. “Don’t waste your life.” Ah, I get goosebumps just writing those words. Hugs and more hugs coming to you across the ocean.

      1. Dina

        Thank you, Rebecca. Danke. Tusen takk!:-)
        Well, those are my three languages, I live in three countries, now it’s time to slow down. Time is essential for living well. Time is like a coin, don’t you think? You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.
        ***Hugs*** Dina ❤️, still thinking… 🙂

      2. Clanmother

        Oh that is a wonderfully profound way to think of time! As you so eloquently reminded me, if we gave time more consideration, we would live our lives differently. I just came across a quote today by e.e. cummings. “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

        I am quite interested in how your next adventure will unfold, especially since you are in the exploration stage. To me this is the most interesting. It is that “active waiting” thinking stage. Hugs and more hugs! ❤ Will be in touch with our itinerary.

  4. Scott Marshall

    I have completely lost touch with your blog Rebecca – haven’t seen you on the feed but seeing you post on Instagram i guess i thought i was seeing your posts. I do love these shots all raser sharp – I especially enjoyed the cup against the tartan background – I am off for a catch up.

    1. Clanmother

      About a week ago my computer had a total meltdown – happened right in the middle of a blog post. Everything went black. So I have been computerless for about a week, except for my trusty iPhone! This hiatus was a reminder that we are in a vibrant, global conversation via wires and cables. It is great to be back and connecting again. 🙂

    1. Clanmother

      Oh Cindy! So good to read your comments. I’ve been computerless until yesterday. (My computer had a meltdown about a week ago) Great to be reconnected. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. Aquileana

    ★ ★ ★ Hello Clanmother ★ ★ ★

    Certainly a very wise post… I enjoyed the reading and couldn´t agree more with you when you say that: “Living well is one of those nebulous concepts that is difficult to quantify”. So many philosophers have tried to reach the best way of living, according to general variables. Such as for instance, pleasure (Epicureanism) or its opposite, lack of bodily pleasures (stoicism), reaching the Nirvana (Buddhism), just to mention a few examples…
    I think that the best motto in this sense is “Carpe Diem”… To seize the day and to try to take the best and most joyful approach of each moment…
    Voltaire was right. Life is a gift and “it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well”.

    Thanks for sharing this positive message,
    Best wishes,
    Aquileana 😀

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you, Aquileana, for adding depth and breadth to this post. I love the words, “Carpe Diem.” So much is said in two words. I also like Virgil’s thought:

      “Death twitches my ear;
      ‘Live,’ he says…
      ‘I’m coming.”

      I am looking forward to our continued dialogue! We have much to discuss…

    1. Clanmother

      I am in the process of finding a place that rents harps! And I found a teacher – who speaks Gaelic. I promised Gallivanta that I would have a video by the end of this year. Tick Tock! Thanks for your support and encouragement! 🙂

  6. Ms Frances

    Yes, learning the harp would be such an exciting experience. We would join the likes of King David and those very ancient peoples who made pictures of their harp-like instruments on rocks and perhaps cave walls as early as 15,000 B.C. Harps are the earliest and oldest known stringed instruments. Let us not lose heart–but we can’t learn without an instrument. We must make a search.

  7. friendlytm

    Wow! This is so beautiful….your words are music . Your writing is art. Your harp music will be appreciated as a beautiful painting! Hi Rebecca: you definitely will fit and live well with a harp! Look forward to hearing your first harp performance on the online radio show. Thank you, Rebecca.

    1. Clanmother

      You have a way of inspiring courage in me! I am looking forward to the harp lessons – hopefully to be arranged in the next couple of months. I think my mother will be joining me on this adventure!

      “A harp can be a dangerous as a sword, in the right hands.” George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

    1. Clanmother

      Insightful!! Absolutely, it is the balance physical and spiritual, now that I think of it. Art has the power to communicate without words, a poem can paint a landscape, music allows the soul to dance. Thank you for adding depth to this conversation.

      1. pleisbilongtumi

        You are most welcome!. Art has the power to communicate without words, a poem can paint a landscape, music allows the soul to dance. They are all in our breaths, aren’t they? 🙂

    1. Clanmother

      I very much appreciate your affirmation. It all started when I thought I would learn the bagpipes. Have you ever tried to play the bagpipes!!? AAGHHH! Well, that didn’t work for me. My admiration for bagpipers increased exponentially after that session. Then I went to a céilidh a couple of years ago and discovered the harp. I’m making arrangement to rent a harp and start lessons this summer. This quote will be my mantra as I go along.

      “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

    1. Clanmother

      You are too kind! Remember when we committed to using “soundcloud” for a voice recording on our blogs; and I said to you that by the end of this year (2014), I wanted to upload a video? Well, now you have inspired me to start planning ahead. I’m already hyperventilating!!! 🙂

  8. judilyn

    The harp is a beautiful instrument! There was a lady in an RV that was parked next to us one time, and her afternoon practice sessions were lovely to listen to.

    One of my favorite sayings to hang in the kitchen is:

    THE BEST REVENGE IS LIVING WELL!

    This is made especially pertinent because it can mean whatever one wishes it to mean!

    1. Clanmother

      Oh, Judilyn, that is a wonderful saying – one that should hang in all of kitchens. It is easy to define “living well” by an external force, whether it be friends, family, co-workers or a marketing machine. The definition is, as you said so well, “whatever one wishes it to mean.”

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