How often do you make your life into beautiful art?

Today is September 26 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you make your life into beautiful art?” People who navigate the chaos realize that everyone is an artist who can make beautiful art with their life. Mexican author Don Miguel Ruiz wrote "Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art." Ruiz knows a thing or two about making his life into beautiful art as he went from being a doctor to an award-winning writer. He attended medical school and became a surgeon. For several years he practiced medicine with his brothers. A near-fatal car accident changed the direction of his life. He promptly returned to his mother to acquire greater moral understanding.

He then apprenticed himself to a shaman, and eventually moved to the United States. While the Toltec culture left no written records, Ruiz employs the word Toltec to signify a long tradition of indigenous beliefs in Mexico, such as the idea that a Nagual (shaman) guides an individual to personal freedom. After exploring the human mind from an indigenous as well as scientific perspective, Ruiz combines traditional wisdom with modern insights. His most famous book, The Four Agreements, was published in 1997 and has sold around 5.2 million copies in the U.S. and has been translated into 38 languages. The book advocates personal freedom from beliefs and agreements that we have made with ourselves and others that are creating limitation and unhappiness in our lives. The Four Agreements are: be impeccable with your word, don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions, and always do your best.

One person who navigated the chaos and made his life into art was Irish artist Christy Brown whose life story was told in the 1989 award winning movie My Left Foot starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Brown was born into a working-class Irish family at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin in June 1932. He had 22 siblings. Out of these 22, only 13 lived and 9 died in infancy. After his birth, doctors discovered that he had severe cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder which left him almost entirely spastic in his limbs. Though urged to commit him to a hospital, Brown's parents were unswayed and subsequently determined to raise him at home with their other children.

During Brown's adolescence, social worker Katriona Delahunt became aware of his story and began to visit the Brown family regularly, while bringing Christy books and painting materials as, over the years, he had shown a keen interest in the arts and literature. He had also demonstrated extremely impressive physical dexterity since, soon after discovering several household books, Christy had learned to both write and draw himself, with the only limb over which he had unequivocal control: his left leg.

Brown quickly matured into a serious artist. Although Brown famously received almost no formal schooling during his youth, he did attend St Brendan's School-Clinic in Sandymount intermittently. At St. Brendan's he encountered Dr. Robert Collis, a noted author. Collis discovered that Brown was also a natural novelist and, later, Collis helped use his own connections to publish My Left Foot, by then a long-gestating autobiographical account of Brown's struggle with everyday life amidst the vibrant culture of Dublin. Despite tremendous obstacles Brown made his life into beautiful art.

The stories of Ruiz and Brown call to mind an observation by actor Tiffany Haddish. Upon reflecting on how she navigated her career, Haddish said “I rarely get what I want. God Gives me what I need. You know, I wanted to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live but never go that. I did get to host though and got an Emmy because of it. So, God gives me what I need. What’s the saying? ‘The rejection is my protection. A lot of people can’t handle rejection. But it always pans out for me the way it is supposed to.”

Ruiz’s life was going in one direction than an automobile accident altered the course of his career and learned to make beautiful art through his words.

Brown learned to make beautiful art with the only limb in his control – his left foot.

  • How often are you making life into beautiful art?

  • Who or what is preventing you from making life into beautiful art?

  • Do you understand that your ‘rejection is your protection?’