When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become
manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless and intelligence
cannot be applied. Herophilus, Ancient Greek
Mr. Herophilus (335-280 BC) was a Greek physician and the first to systematically perform scientific dissections of human cadavers. I myself spend a bit of time at similar pursuits, somewhat systematically critiquing (if not dissecting) living humans. Like Herophilus, I seek a better understanding of homo sapiens. Certainly a great deal more must be known of our kind if great advances are to be made in realizing advances in health, liberty, harmony and more successful pursuits of happiness.
Herophilus, in my opinion, was a bit of an artist in his own right. What’s more, I think we can all choose to be artists, in a fashion. What is an artist, after all, save one who creates what others find splendid, beautiful, inspiring, worthy, good and/or satisfying? Maybe not everybody will think so – not everyone life Dali, Mozart or anyone else – there is no accounting for tastes. If the individual takes pride in and is fulfilled by his work, that is artistry. Let us then broaden the definition of art to encompass lives being well lived.
Cultures are a bit stingy about who gets to view himself as an artist. Enough of that. Let’s encourage wellness seekers to envision their pursuits as art forms – and hope that this encourages actions consistent with the role. The payoffs that favor choosing and sustaining REAL wellness lifestyles are compelling.
While generalizations are hazardous, including those I’m about to offer, they can be useful – if not too far off the mark. I think the following generalizations about art and artists are close enough to be reliable.
- Artists take pride in their work. They view themselves as special.
- Most artists have a self-concept that includes being gifted, privileged and maybe even chosen by destiny – or at least favored by random chance.
- Many artists expect their output to outlast them. Longfellow put as follows: Art is long, and Time is fleeting. Artists tend to cultivate and safeguard their talent, whatever it may be.
- Our own health and quality of life are at least as valuable to us as any painting, sculpture, pot, blown glass, song, play, or material object, no matter how old, prized or exquisite such treasures may be. This seems to be true even if we know that few others would stand in long lines to gaze upon us in a classy museum filled with other treasures.
Let us reflect, along with Herophilus, on the fact that art cannot be fully appreciated or enjoyed in the midst of pain, fear of premature death or other forms of diminished mindfulness. Also, let us reflect on the fact that art does not ensue from activities performed haphazardly.
As with art expressed in material objects by recognized artists of the traditional kind, the art of life lived well demands conscious awareness appreciates that the chosen art form is precious, fragile and unsuited for delegation to others. Alas, most people do just that with their lifestyles – delegate to excess to medical professionals, medications, advisers and others. The results are usually neither art not or health. Better to insist on staying in charge, so long as it is possible, as the master crafts-persons for the work of well-being.
In summary, know that the material at our disposal is time, our bodies and our minds. Our works and designs are REAL wellness lifestyles. Delegation will not work, a reality expressed long ago in the Yiddish proverb: If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living.
Lifestyle Artists All
Are there prerequisites for lifestyle artistry and, if so, what are they? There is none. Cogito ergo sum or something like that – you are, therefore you can be – such an artist. No tests need be taken or passed; you don’t have to qualify.
The finest lifestyle artists are all those who consider themselves as such, and who thus act consistently with this motivational self-image.
In a sense, lifestyle artistry is the same as wellness itself: It works best when you adopt the perspective that you are an artist, that you already are committed to a special quest beyond the norm. When you judge the alternative (mediocrity or muddling through) as unappealing and unacceptable, artistry is your best alternative.
Art is a jealous mistress, said Emerson. Consider yourself a REAL wellness lifestyle artist and you will most likely craft the appropriate feelings, thoughts, self-images and behaviors that fit your special version of the Michelangelo
Once committed, how likely are long-term departures from your art? Not very, I suggest.
All good wishes, Mr. or Ms. Rembrandt. Or is that Michelangelo?
Be well and look on the artistic bright side.