Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paint Your Days

Sunrise Flare
Originally uploaded by nobleup
Your days are numbered. That sounds really scary, doesn't it? But the reality of this fact can be transformational if you wake up right now. In fact, you can even make time expand for yourself if you start today, this moment, living creativly and with intention.

Consider this. The average life expectancy in the United States is around 80 years. Knowing your own age, you can figure out about how many days you have left on this beautiful Earth. I'm guessing that if I take good care of myself and stay healthy, I have somewhere between 13,000 to 15,000 days remaining. That sounds like a lot, but it's still a finite number.

In a 24 hour day, we spend 6-8 hours sleeping and probably another 10-12 working and doing other extraneous activities that must be done -- getting dressed, cleaning, running errands, doing chores, etc. That's 16-20 hours of your day spent sleeping, working or doing things that are either neutral or a pain in the butt. And if you don't like your job, you are really living most of your day uncreatively and frustrated. Add up those hours, and you've consumed nearly three quarters of your days on Earth alive but not really living. Is that what you want?

If you can shift your thinking a bit, you might see that each remaining day is a beautiful, incredible, glorious gift. If you shift your thinking you might decide, or even demand, that you start living consciously and creatively. So what does that mean? For me it means reclaiming as much of my day as possible for living that brings me joy and meaning and contentment. I want all of my days to be lived that way. I only have a few thousand left!

If you see your day as a blank canvas, start with your vision of the completed masterpiece and work backward. What do you want for today and for every day of your life? I want fulfilling work. I want to experience beauty. I want to interact with loving family and friends. I want to learn. I want to enjoy nature. Filling your day with more of what you want and less of what you don't want takes some courageous action. You might decide you need a different job. You might need to let go of some unhealthy relationships. You might have to simplify your life with less stuff and fewer commitments.You might have to let go of fear of failure or being too old or unable to change. These bold actions might take a little time. But not taking them will steal nearly all of your time.

When your day becomes your own self-created masterpiece, time slows down. You are savoring time instead of killing it. You are living in the moment instead of for the next moment. There will be stuff that still needs doing -- neutral or unpleasant stuff. So here's another secret to slowing down time: even with this stuff, stay in the present moment. Do these tasks with intention and focus -- even with gratitude. If you are distracted, you are in the future, and you've given away the now. Give away enough nows, and you've lost days, weeks, even years. You have the power to make even the most unpleasant now a moment of your own creation. With intentional living, you will have less and less of these unpleasant moments.

Now imagine your remaining day on Earth. You are looking back on the canvas of your life. How do you want it to look? Is it splattered with the paint of fearful, boring and unconscious living? Or is it an exquisite masterpiece of your creation, artfully and lovingly rendered by your own bold hand?


  1. Another paint analogy: are you painting-by-the numbers, throwing the paint at the canvas a la Jackson Pollock (with apologies to JP for the analogy), sketching and constantly erasing and never getting to the paint, or what? I love paintings where you can tell the artist was inspired by the light, whatever that light was like, bold, misty, dark, a beam, blinding, etc. Light is such a key to painting. I've got to go turn one on and get painting now. Thanks for the great article, Barrie! I'm inspired to paint!

  2. I LOVE numbers, and I started doing all kinds of math in response to "Paint Your Days." My husband often says, "Today is a blank canvas and you can paint your day anyway you want to." Now I need to forgive myself for spending well over 4000 hours in... you can guess. I am going to live beyond 80, but still, if I live to be 88, that only gives me 8760 days left to live, and that doesn't sound like a whole lot. This kind of thinking sure is an antidote to procrastination! Thanks. Sure enjoyed connecting with you. Cleone Reed