Living Artfully

When my TSH levels drop, all I can really do is sit (or lay) and think. There’s not much else until I make an appointment with the vampires to give them a vial of my blood. Still in search of the perfect balance, my doctor then prescribes a different dose of my meds. This lab-doctor-pharmacy process takes a few days and until I get the phone call from my pharmacist, my mobility and motivation are at a premium. Communication dwindles because I stammer and I can’t access my vocabulary. Also, my short-term memory goes kaput and I can’t remember the simplest of things, thus, I am a huge consumer of Post-Its. Added to this is a crankiness that overcomes me, mixed with a dose of depression. I grow cynical, suspicious, jealous, traits that are not typical of me. I am a communicator to my very core and I’m not very graceful when I lose that ability. The telly gets a workout when I’m in this condition...

This evening, following my après dîner mini-coma (my brain sort of switches off so that it can see to the digestion process that my thyroid can no longer do on its own), I watched the American Masters program on Andy Warhol and it got me thinking about the act of living artfully.

Perhaps, because I grew up only 50 miles north of Hollywood and L.A., or perhaps because I grew up in a family of professional musicians, writers, actors, and dancers, or because of any number of other factors, I have always lived what may be called an artful life. By this, I don’t mean that I’m always creating works of art (although I do compose, write, draw and sculpt). I mean that I have always lived my life as if it were my work of art. This wasn’t something I set out to do, it just came naturally.

Life has never been normal for me, but I guess that’s my doing. The idea of living a life of graduate, get married, have kids, work, retire, die never appealed to me. It never fit with my concept of who I was as a person, so it has always been natural for me to create both myself and my existence like I would a work of art. I even stage my homes to reflect the world of my making, and dress to reflect my place in that world. Anaïs Nin wrote of the world she created in her home at Louveciennes and Virginia Woolf wrote in her diaries of her self-made world. Through the years I have found that these two writers and I have a great deal in common in this regard.

As a composer, I try to view my life as I would a grand composition, complete with dissonance and resolution, diminution and augmentation, major and minor, accelerando and retardando. I try not to get too entangled in the so-called normal life, but it’s not easy when you’re raising a family. Still, I have the great good fortune of raising a family who are anything but normal. We are all artists, all eccentric, all temperamental, all creating our artful lifestyles.

When the kids are all out of the nest, I intend to lose myself in living artfully. I’m going to compose in the morning, go to the cafe in the afternoon, and spend my evenings with books, concerts, plays, and tavern tables with my artistic friends.

And that’s about all I can do with this tonight. When I first thought of writing about living artfully it was so clear in my mind, but it has since been hijacked and I can’t remember all of the things I wanted to say.

“Living never wore one out so much as the effort not to live.”
Anaïs Nin