What Is Art?

Art is something that plays a part in everybody’s life. Anyone, from any walk of life, can make or appreciate art. But what, exactly, is it?

There are several ways of thinking about art.

For example, it is that stuff that you go to see at a museum. From the paintings hanging on the walls to the sculptures on pedestals, you can go and look at Art, with a capital “A”.

But it is more than that, of course. At the museum gift shop, you can buy a print of some of the pieces, and hang them on your wall at home. Surely, a reproduction of a work of art is still art, right?

You might buy a painting from an artist who is not a household name. Or you might even paint something yourself. All those are examples of artwork. So it would seem that the pedigree of the person producing the work is not what determines if it is art.

Does intention matter? If I sit down at an easel, with a paint brush, I can produce a painting. The finished product might not be very good, but it is an effort of creation.

However, let’s say I find an elaborate spider-web in the morning, glistening with dew. Is that art? The spider that spun the web did so as an act of creation, but didn’t intend to make artwork — it was just following a biological imperative. Maybe I’m so impressed, I take a picture. Does the act of photography make it more or less artistic?

Perhaps only the appreciation matters. If someone appreciates something as being aesthetically pleasing, is that thing automatically a work of art? But doesn’t that mean that anything can be so classified? And if that is true, does that devalue what the word “art” even means?

Related questions: How important is the artist to art? Art: create or consume? When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone?

Are You Aging Well?

If there is one thing that is certain in life, it is that aging happens. You are going to age. But are you aging well?

We all age, every day, for years on end. This is true despite socioeconomic background, race, age, political party, or language spoken. We all get older, inexorably, a second at a time.

Given that simple fact, it is reasonable to evaluate that aging process. We all do it, but it is true that some people are going to do it better than others.

But what does “better” even mean, in this context? What does it mean to “age well”?

For some, it might mean doing everything you can to life a long life.After all, if aging means “getting old”, why not do everything possible to stay young for as long as possible? Eat healthy food, stay physically fit, don’t take any unnecessary risks, and in general do what you can to live as long as you can.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘How do you define success?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’


For others, it might mean taking advantage of every moment, even if that means the total time is reduced. Seize the day! What is life if it is not experienced fully? Taking risks can lead to thrilling, exciting moments of feeling truly alive.

Another definition might be having the greatest impact. If you spread you love, kindness, and generosity to as many people as possible, you will be remembered fondly by a large population. If people are happy you existed because of the way you improved their life, isn’t that “living well”?

Ultimately, the definition is yours alone. You decide what it means to live well, and you also get to evaluate if you manage to meet your own definition.

It also can be done at any age. Teenagers can decide if they are becoming a good (or useful) person. Middle-aged people can determine if they are better than they were years ago. Someone in their twilight years can decide if their body is holding up to the passage of time.

However you decide to define it, are you aging well? What criteria are you using?

Related questions: What is the best part about getting older? The worst? What makes you feel old? What is time?

How Do You Serve Others?

For some people, serving others  is a noble endeavor, and helps provide motivation for living. How do you serve others?

In the United States, a mythology has sprung up around the notion of being independent, like “individual’s rights” and “personal freedoms”. The idea of living your life in support of others is not something talked about as much, but it happens just as frequently.

The experience most have in this regard is family connection. For example, once someone becomes a parent, then suddenly priorities shift. Your time, effort, and money (and sleep!) are sacrificed for your child or children. Even beyond children, you may well feel an obligation to your parents, your siblings, or even members of your extended family.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Are we too busy?’


But for some, serving others can go well beyond family obligations. There are many people who have chosen a public service career, from police and firefighters, to teachers and educators. Politicians, at local, state, or national levels are public servants.

Even people who work in the private sector often do so with the intention of improving the lives of others in some way.

Churches of most religions and denominations serve the public in various ways. Many holy texts speak extensively about the importance of serving others, particularly those less fortunate.

What about you? What do you do, in your daily life, to serve others? Are there ways in which your intentions are different from your actions? How might you change your life to provide better service for your community or the public in general?

Related questions: What expectations do you have of others? How do you depend on others? Protecting yourself or protecting others? What are our responsibilities to others?

How Can You Turn A Loss Into A Win?

In life, there are times when you experience a loss. How can you take the sting of that loss and channel it into a win?

No matter how successful you happen to be, there will inevitably be times where you experience a setback. Or maybe your life has more than the usual number of setbacks.

How you respond to these obstacles can be crucial. In fact, it can be the difference between long-term growth and stagnation. Being able to channel your pain, anger, misery and unhappiness into productive action is important. Even if it doesn’t bring about eventual success — and it might — it can help with your outlook.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘How do you define success?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’


Not that it is easy. A loss can be devastating, and it can leave you feeling powerless, even when you aren’t. It can sap your energy and your motivation.

So what can you do in that instance? Are there any tips that have helped you in the past? Are there strategies that you can think of that might help you recharge, in order to fight another day? And not just to fight, but to come out on top in the future?

How can you turn a loss into a win?

Related questions: How do you deal with loss? How can we turn sadness into constructive action? Why bother? What can you control? When is it useful to fail?

 

How Do You Justify Your Existence?

Author Isaac Asimov wrote a series of mystery stories about a group called the Black Widowers. In nearly every story, a question was asked of a guest character: How do you justify your existence?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How do you define success?’


In the stories, the answer to this question always leads to a mystery or a puzzle of some sort being presented and eventually solved. In real life, of course, there probably will not be a mystery. But we can still have the discussion.

So how, dear reader, would you answer this question? What is your justification for your time on this earth? The question is simple, but the answer may not be.

Related questions: What gives you purpose? Why are we here? How do you judge yourself? What do you do that matters?