What Really Matters in Life

Life is good.

Seriously, I mean it. I live near the ocean on a quiet little island. I enjoy my days in my cozy house. I'm writing, spending time with my lovely wife, and I'm making art again. Yep. I'm taking better care of myself than I have in a long time.

I am so thankful to be where I am now.

A year ago I was suffering. My job was really stressful and demanding and took its toll on my body and emotional well being, even sending me to the hospital at one point. Yet, I made more income last year than any year previous.

I had to ask myself what I was working so hard for?

I think my strongest motivator was fear: fear of failure, fear of the ramifications of standing up for myself, fear of being poor, fear of doing what I really wanted to do with my life.

Fear is a powerful motivator, and I was too tired to fight it.

But, a series of events changed all that. In early October, I was put on a project at work that would allow me to write creatively for the company, but ultimately, despite early successes, it failed.

Fortunately, my vacation had been scheduled for the last week of October this year. And, with that, I was finally able to have rest and peace. With the quiet and rest, I started to heal. I got away to a quiet secluded beach house, and surrounded myself with friendship, good food, and laughter.

 We had our friends, Thom and Linda, over for a dinner party.

There was great wine, margaritas, and wonderful food, like fresh locally caught, grilled scallops, shrimp, and bree with homemade fig jam. After dinner, the ladies went upstairs to talk and Thom and I went to the porch to chat about life, and smoke cigars.

I can't tell you how much that conversation helped me, and perhaps, even changed me. We talked about art, life, faith, and what it is to love someone. It was great cigar conversation.

I won't go into all the details, but Thom has an amazing story. He was once like me, working way too hard at a job that was killing him, and like me, it all blew up in his face.

 He asked me what it was that really mattered to me. He had found it in art and had chased the passion fervently since he discovered it. He hinted that I also had that passion in me and he encouraged me to do something that mattered to me.

Certainly, his own journey came with hardship, but because he loved it, it also had meaning. Today, he and Linda are both visual artists who own a gallery in the town in which I'm living. They travel overseas at least once a year, and make it a point to truly enjoy life.

So what really matters? What is that thing I can spend six hours doing and it feels like six minutes?

Here is a hint:

This painting is truly special to me and I consider it to be one of my best works.

It was a case where I truly wanted art to imitate life. I first collaged art from all the different times in my life onto the wood. Then, I painted over the whole thing with white wiping out evidence of the previous art aside from its texture, and then made the new image on top to symbolically represent the new life I was living. It was a life that had been built upon those previous experiences.

This piece hangs in Thom and Linda's beautiful house, and I couldn't think of a place I would rather it hang.

It may sound cliche', but life truly is too short to work at a job that you hate. Chasing your dreams comes with hardship, but it at least has meaning. Don't be afraid to reach for what really matters.

Thanks for reading!

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