So as you may know, I call myself a self-proclaimed student of art de vivre, i.e. the art of life (I just like the French way of saying it more). And some time ago I have asked this question on my blog: how do you define the art of life? Interesting enough, have I ever answered this question myself?
I did answered it to myself, and I thought it is important that I share my answer here. But then the summer came crossing over my plans. Festival happened. Guests happened. Life in summer happens – with more intensity. So I found myself forgetting my answer. But it has never left my mind. So what is the art of life according to me?
This Easter we decided not to fly far away from Oslo, like it is a tradition among many – but to visit our closest neighbor, Sweden. Oslo becomes pretty empty during these days, and already on Wednesday afternoon the streets miss their usual crowds. There are two classical ways to spend Easter here: 1 – you leave country for some sunnier place or a big city rush, 2 – you leave for the cabin in mountains to enjoy the last snow (this must be very Norwegian thing, because who else is missing snow in April? :)), go skiing and read detective stories (the genre is very popular here and even got the name of påskekrim, which can be roughly translated as Easter crime). As you see, in any case, you leave the city, and staying in such a forlorn place, with all shops and cafes closed can feel somewhat sad.
I wish that Norwegian spring were more predictable, but it’s not. Before the end of March it is early to speak of the spring altogether – March is a winter month here, with a sudden snow and a biting freezing wind. Thanks to Instagram we have a daily reminder how gorgeous spring can be: there are first crocuses in Germany, and the blossoming trees in Paris and Vienna. While I decided to go check the forest for the first tiny sprouts last week – only to find there the rests of snow. Complaining is my old friend, but it doesn’t help me here, so I learn to reinvent myself and look for the ways to change my attitude. This year I learn not to wait for the spring, but to create it. Here are my tiny tricks so far.
What if the highest art expression was the life we are living? What if it’s not what we do or create – but just our existence that has the most profound influence and artistic value?
This idea comes from listening to an interview on Youtube (here is the controversial thing: the interview is of an extraterrestrial being who is channeled by a human. If you are interested, search for Bashar and Alan Steinfeld. I know, that sounds weird, but my interest is not whether it is an alien speaking or not, but the points that are made. And there are a lot of good points there). I was struck by these words: “Just by your existence you already have all the impact you will ever have. Nothing you do in life will ever create or generate more impact that you already have. The things that you do, your creativity don’t have more impact – they reveal the impact you’ re already having”.
I continue to share my 5 things, and today I want to share the things that inspire me. These are not the things that have the fetish status and the power to kindle my inspiration any time, but rather the small details of my life which – when I start collecting them – have the ability to sparkle joy and excitement inside of me. And it feels like they make the small holes through which the flood of inspiration breaks through and takes me in its flow, like the water finds little holes in the dam and then smashes it, flowing freely.
My previous post was about our use of social media, but I haven’t mentioned the positive sides of them (and the post was not critical towards the social media, rather how we use them). My favorite one, Instagram, is an inspiration for me, because it sends me on the search for beauty in my nearest surroundings, which I started to consider boring and not so pretty. But the new interest for detail gives me a fresh eye, and I end up with finding a lot of tiny wonders. Right now I love the function “stories” because as I make my first snaps, I get a feeling of a treasure hunt- and after short time I have to stop myself because there are funny and pretty little things everywhere 🙂 So all of the pictures below I made for IG and “Stories”, and collecting them is such a fun way to be mindful and grateful for the beauty around me.
On our trip to the Southern France I decided to collect everything yellow. We were driving through the region of Occitanie, and I decided that the famous shop L’Occitane is from these places – and as its color is yellow, so must this region be. You can guess what happened after that. I was noticing yellow things everywhere. Isn’t it weird how you start noticing whatever you make your mind up for? So if we decide to collect the positive vibes – surely we will notice them everywhere, right? So let’s do that! And let this yellow postcard be a reminder of that.
My favorite kind of profile on Instagram is a travel profile. Once I was showing my new finds to my friend: girls in floating dresses being photographed in beautiful and exotic sights. My friend replied: “Yes, it is cool, all those faraway places and adventures. But right now I prefer the exploration of the everyday life. When you can find something that makes your life here and now more wonderful. Like when you taught me once to enjoy staying at home, infusing it with chill-out music and relaxed attitude. This is more interesting to me than traveling”.
That got me thinking. How often I see pictures of sandy beaches with palms, or canyons and waterfalls, or old Italian streets with colorful houses and think: “This is the life worth living”. While the everyday life in my city, right now, seems gray and boring in this light. But is it so? Or better say, it is not the matter of proving that thought wrong or right, the question is: is such thinking good for me? Does it make me feel like I want to feel?
Isn’t it a good subject worth exploring? The art of everyday life. Art de vivre, as I like to call it, inspired by the French who gained their fame for knowing how to live the life with ease and pleasure. I want to devote myself to study of this art, as I believe it can be learnt just as all other forms of art. For me it is more than eating breakfast in hipster restaurants and taking photos of shoes, bags and Starbucks cups, or whatever is trendy now among the lifestyle bloggers of Instagram.
Some time ago I stumbled upon blog post by a Russian make-up blogger where she was discussing natural aging and surgery methods for staying young. Her position was firm and clear. The blog had a compilation of celebrity photos: those aging naturally versus those who use plastic surgery and the botox injections, – and the former seemed to be losing the game. The author argument was like that: there are many natural processes in our body, like body hair, which we don’t accept and fight, by epilation or shaving. So natural aging is not better, and should be fought by all means. In her comments a man supported that point of view: “It is the strongest that survive. So if you can find the means to look young and beautiful – of course, you should use them!”
My reaction was strong and emotional. I had a recollection of the culture where I grew up, the culture that believes in “survival of the fittest”, and for a moment I felt thankful for living in a different reality. I was born and grew up in the city in Eastern Ukraine (Soviet Union then), with the strong Russian culture and language traditions. It was that kind of place that make (Western) Europeans gasp and wonder. Why do they do it? Why – in the country with an unreasonably low wages – do the guys have the latest versions of smartphones? Why do girls look like they just got out of manicure salon, balancing on high heels in the mess of bad pavement?
Because this is Eastern Europe, I would say. A place where you must impress, you must fake that you are richer and cooler than you are. And since people don’t have enough money to impress with houses or cars, they would impress with phones and clothes. The streets can be messy, but on every corner there would be a barber’s shop, a beauty parlor or a solarium. And nowhere else but in my city will you see a girl on high heels, with a party make-up and sexy gear, heading to her usual office job on a Monday morning.