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  • Frances Schwabenland

L'art de vivre

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

As we come upon a new year with its whispering for reflection... reflections on the past with nudgings toward the future, there lies a spirit of transformation. My reflections have taken a meandering and winding path but thankfully have converged into a somewhat cohesive train of thought.

The French have coined the phrase "L'Art de Vivre"... 3 words that vibrate with that spirit of transformation. Translated, it reminds us that living life well is truly an art form and its whisperings through the ether is the nudging to create specialness and savor the everyday. One definition of art states, "The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination producing works to be appreciated primarily for its beauty and emotional power."

In all the readings I have done on the meaning of this French phrase, I consistently kept coming upon the urgings to be brilliantly aware, create with inspiration and savor the present moment. There have been exquisite times when all three of these were woven into my experiences as an artist, photographer and writer but this year, I have decided that L'Art de Vivre is going to be a touchstone for me in the days and months to come. I want to dance in that exquisiteness much more consistently.

Other words that have taken on such a powerful, striking and resonating meaning for me are the words written and so eloquently delivered by Amanda Gorman on the steps of the Capital at the Inauguration last year. In her poem entitled, "The Hill We Climb" she so artfully captured both the heaviness of the reality of the moment and still inspired us all to see who we could become:

"Raise this wounded world into a wondrous one."

"When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it, for there is always light if only we are brave enough to see it ...if only we are brave enough to be it."

It does take focused courage to see the light and break out of going down that rabbit hole of negativity that seems to have become a huge crater in the world we find ourselves. I want to take these words from Amanda Gorman and the French people and truly begin to breath life into them and make them my way of life.

How can my words uplift and enliven?

How can I reach out to others with the energy of a new dawn?

How can I bring much more mindfulness into the everyday acts of life so they are infused with beauty and gratefulness...from my first cup of coffee to pulling back the covers before getting into bed each night?

A candle, a flower, vast and expansive vistas, music and silence, a friend, a lover...

Moment by moment, how can I find the art in my heart and linger at the threshold of the beautiful and sensual?

Words, touchstones, vision, questions seeking daily responses. I am ready and filled with momentum to engage with the decisions and choices for the year ahead and hopefully at the end, create a beautiful mosaic of memories in my heart.

Note: My artistic choice of expression is photography but because there are so many varied forms of art, I wanted to feature my cousin's work. Laszlo Bagi's choice is pen, ink and a silkscreen. I chose his art to start off this writing as I thought it best captured Amanda Gorman's words about the light that is always there to guide us. We are each artists in our own right. As you create your life in 2022, may your path be lit and may you light it!

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