I was given a decoratively painted tile about twenty-five years ago that I keep in my kitchen. The counter is protected from hot pot bottoms by this trivet. Though it’s been glued back together, chipped and lost the bracket for hanging, the tile remains in a place of honor, surviving several moves.
The last two lines of the poem “The Art of Living” are painted on the face of the tile. These words have become even more meaningful with the passing of time as I consider how blessed I am when I can share with others. I remember loathing occasions where I was expected to bring something to share because I always focused on my lack. When I determined to evaluate what I DID have to offer, my attitude changed.
REDEEMING THE TIME
Time is limited for all of us, making it a precious gift. Great wealth is not necessary for you to let someone know they are special. For one week of his childhood, one of my sons fell asleep listening to my old sewing machine whirring. By the end of the week, he had his own super hero outfit and cape. This past November, I was cleaning out a closet when I discovered he had saved that old mask and a shirt I had made for him long ago.
My grandmother used to spend several weeks each year crocheting treasures that were given to her dear ones at Christmas. She didn’t get overwhelmed, rushed or overspend, but rather made good use of the time and materials she had on hand.
Creativity requires me to first be grateful for what I DO have and then ask myself how I might share it. Only then can I focus on the possibilities. Paint and other decorations can give used and free items a second life. A refurbished bicycle or a freshly stenciled chair would be a delight for most children. Once you’ve trained yourself to spot creative opportunities, you’ll just need a little planning. What are your talents? Could you combine several small items to make one? Are there some materials on sale in the off season that can be used later? Do you have surplus items that someone else might enjoy? It is possible to find everything from used tools to craft items that people are glad to give away.
SHARING YOUR DELIGHT
I made it a priority to involve my children in these projects so that they would also know the joy of giving. While I might be learning a particular craft/skill, my children are helping design labels and packaging and then enjoying the fun of sharing those gifts with those we encounter. Sometimes, we just make things before we’ve decided who the recipient will be. Part of the fun might be trying to guess who will get the homemade cookies we’ve just spent a couple of hours baking.
Part of the fun for our family is being able to surprise others with unexpected gifts; it’s a rewarding experience.
I’ve located the entire poem and included it below. I haven’t been able to learn who wrote it.
THE ART OF LIVING
To touch the cup with eager lips and taste, not drain it;
To woo and tempt and count a bliss, and not attain it;
To fondle and caress a joy, yet hold it lightly;
To watch the sunset in the west without regretting;
To hail its advent in the east, the night forgetting;
To smother care in happiness, and grief in laughter;
To hold the present close, not questioning the hereafter;
To have enough to shareFeature Articles, to know the joy of giving;
To thrill with all the sweets of life – that’s living.