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Book Club

A Million Little Ways

The preschool hallway at church is crowded with high-heeled women and slack-wearing men.  The girls hold on to various parts of my coat while I navigate my way to my son’s classroom.  As we pass the window looking into the two-year-old room, an out-of-place image in the corner catches my eye.  A man stands still, children scurry around him on knees and Play-Doh-covered hands.
He holds a violin in rest position.
I stop in the middle of the hallway, move off to the side with my caravan of three, fascinated by the odd scen on the other side of the window.  We stay there and watch as this suited-man lifts the violin from beneath his arm, pauses for a moment, and begins to play.  Thick ribbons of blue and deep green fill the nursery as the children carry on with their usual tasks — stacking block, sorting oversized Legos, babbling.  His music is passionate and full.
This man is not a student trying to earn credits or an intern filling his time sheet.  He is a full-fledged professional.  I am ashamed to tell you my first thought: What a waste of that beautiful music.
In that moment, my ideas about art and art-making were limited.  I believed somehow the effort of the artist depended upon the appreciation of the audience.
                                           ~ A Million Little Ways, by Emily P. Freeman

Million-Little-Ways-268x400I went to my first ever book club meeting a few weeks ago. Contrary to the stereotype I had in my head, it wasn’t all about drinking wine and man-bashing (thank goodness!). 

We read A Million Little Ways, by Emily P. Freeman.  It’s a beautifully written book that took my practically-minded brain some time to understand.  But when I really began to understand what the author was getting at, I saw very quickly how it applied to me and my life.

Like the story above, we all have some gift.  It may be music, it may be painting, it may be knitting, it may be driving or hosting or baking or cleaning.  Freeman suggests that whatever that gift is, that is our art. 

And we can express ourselves through that art (which could be web design, working as a mechanic, or scanning groceries). It may bless people while we’re doing it or it may not. 

Either way, we need to live out that art as an expression of ourselves.  By doing what we were uniquely designed to do, we can even reach others when nothing else will.

Now, this is all well and good, and it sounds very spiritual, but I think our little book club all agreed that this is much easier said than done.

With kids and housework and meals and jobs and school and all of the other things that demand our attention, how on earth are we to find the time to search out our gifts, develop them and then find a forum for them?

After some discussion, what I came away with was that we can express our “art” through any task that we do.  Cleaning the toilets or scrubbing grout takes on new meaning when you see those tasks as “art”.  Pausing to appreciate the beauty of a pink sunrise or the light in your baby’s eyes can be “art”.  Baking cookies for a neighbour or taking your turn in carpool can be “art” — it all depends in how we see it and in how we do it.

How do you live out your art everyday?

 

 

 

 

 

Article written by:

Megan is a WAHM to 3 (and then some) kids, who spends the majority of her time working as an Administrative Assistant, blogging and washing dishes. She loves to write about her adventures in parenting, running a home daycare, adoption and whatever else strikes her fancy!

5 Comments

  1. Ramona-Lisa McDonald

    I love that everything can be “art”. It’s so true that it’s our perception that either allows us to see and feel the art, or not. Life can get complicated. That’s a given. Work, family, responsibilities and deadlines can really side-track us in our daily life. Remembering that everywhere we go and in everything we do, we can be an example to others, and it may be in the smallest of ways, seemingly inconsequential. It’s our attitude and spirit that helps us to “see” or even “be” the art. Hope that makes sense…

    • Megan Elford

      Exactly! When we start to see it that way, work isn’t just work anymore — it’s a way to bless and serve others 🙂

  2. Ramona-Lisa English

    I totally get that! I’ve had people in my life who have said that I “let people walk all over me”, that “I put too many people before myself”, that “I have to think about myself for a change and what do I want?”. They don’t understand. I’m not doing it to get accolades, or to “make people like me”. I’m also not “letting” people walk all over me. How can I when I am choosing what I do, even if to some if would appear as if I am letting a lazy person get away with not doing their job, or it was your turn to take a break – why did you let them go ahead of you…. I choose to do a job well, if that means sometimes helping others, fine. Maybe they didn’t understand the “kid” working with me had an exam that they stayed up all night to study for and is now working a 6 – midnight shift and is less productive than they might be. If I let someone have a break before me because their friends came out to see them, isn’t that my choice? Sometimes I just want to be nice. It’s not an inconvenience to me. I didn’t ask the person in question to visit me at work to go for break. I inconvenienced them, that’s the real issue. I can’t change who I am, or I change the person that they were drawn to in the first place. Too many people have a “world” view and not an individual view of life. I actually feel sorry for them that they aren’t more flexible in life, because they may end up being more “broken” than they consider me to be.

    • Megan Elford

      Yes, I think we very much live in a me-first culture, and even doing a favour for someone that you don’t expect to be reciprocated can be seen as a bad thing. We need to know our own limitations and what we’re capable of doing for others without being stretched too thin, but at the same time, I think most of us can be stretched farther than we think 😉

  3. Blanche

    It’s always good to have connections and networks especially when it comes to your passion 🙂 I’m happy for you

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