Life is a Work of Art

Edgar - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Entered on August 3, 2008
Age Group: 65+
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Life is a work of art. It is a painting, a symphony, or a poem; unfinished until we draw our final breath. At birth our life is an empty canvas, a musical score sans notes, or a sheet of fine paper bereft of words. As we inhale our first gasp of air, the creation begins. The first stroke of the brush is laid upon the canvas; the clefs and the first faltering notes are added to the score; a few poetic words are inscribed on the empty paper.

The entire immediate universe impresses its influence on what we are and will become. Our mothers, fathers, siblings, relatives, friends, and casual acquaintances add a brush stroke here, an eighth note there, or a simple word or phrase. We are shaped by every word we read or voice we hear and by all our eyes perceive and faithfully transmit to our brain to be processed, acted on, and selectively stored. We are the sum of all these influences, superimposed on the genetic base we inherit from our parents, and our family tree backward through time. Only we, however, truly fashion the finished product. We delete or modify the brush strokes which clash with others on the canvas, erase the notes which do not resonate, and cross out the words which do not fit the rhyme or meter of the progressing epic.

As we progress through life we are perceived by others as what we are to them, or seem to be at the moment. They see the sum of the brush strokes on the unfinished canvas, they hear the unfinished melody, and they read the words of the evolving poem. They see constant change, the slow motion kaleidoscope of our lives. They each, however, see a different view. Those who knew us in our youth certainly do not have the same impression as those whom we know at other stages of our life. A physician, a clergyman, a teacher, or a lover each has a different view inherent in the nature of their interaction with us.

Everyone who knows or has known us sees a different picture on the canvas, hears a different melody, or reads a different poem. So are we a single work of art, or as many works of art as there are people we have ever met? We must accept the latter. Who could be one thing to all people?

Can we influence this emerging work of art? Of course we can, we must, and thus we do every day. Every thought we ponder as we peer into the abyss that is our past, the reality of the present, and the unknown potential of the future forges an impact. For better or worse we are ever changing, both as others perceive us and as we perceive ourselves.

As our allotted slice of time on earth draws to an end, so does the work of art receive its final stroke from the brush, its ultimate musical note, or the last word of the last stanza of the poem we have become. Or does it? Perhaps the intimacy of a relationship, the ebbing of memories as time passes, or flaws in the fleeting memories slowly render subtle changes; a variance between what we were and how we are remembered,

You must choose your brush strokes, your musical notes, and your poetic words wisely. You will be remembered by the summation of the amplitudes of all the memories you impart to others. Strive to make them all good and positive and those who knew you may remember a beautiful rendering on the canvas, an unforgettable melody, or a poem enjoyable in its rhyme and meter.