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For many of us, it has now been a full year since everything took a different course. One year of the world slowly changing and us becoming different people with different lives to the lives we had before. The interesting thing is not that so many of us have changed individually. Profound, life-changing years have come around for each of us before and they are bound to come around again. The uniqueness of the current circumstance lies in the fact that so many of us have changed so profoundly all at once. And most of this has occurred in relative solitude.

This has been a year of loss and a year of growth. Some of us have had to deal with losses so painful that it is hard to imagine anything beyond the grief. For others, the losses have been smaller but plenty in number. And yet, in spite of all we have been through some of us find ourselves quietly celebrating the transformations that have changed us into something entirely new. With all the pain and suffering this year has brought, it has also brought with it a rare gift. For so many of us across the globe, this is the year that time stood still and granted us the space to grow into something bigger than what we left behind. 

The art of living involves the heavy work of learning when to strive and when to bow down. When to try harder and when to simply allow our hearts to break open so that all that cannot be changed can move through us. This bowing down is not done in defeat but in humble awe of the recognition of how small we are and how little control we really have.

The act of striving without clinging, aiming without grasping is an art. A delicate dance that requires skill, finesse and courage. Learning to cultivate a state of mind that is curious, driven and full of vision but at the same time gentle, flexible and able to stay open enough to recognise the unexpected as an opportunity, is something that does not come naturally to most of us. We crave certainty and predictability. The more anxious we are about an outcome the more we try desperately to control it.  

I once came across a quote by lecturer and author, Joseph Campbell, that has stuck with me ever since. He said if you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”

When we see in front of us exactly how something should unfold, whether that is something big like a vision of what our life should look like or something smaller like a vision of what our homes should look like, more often than not, we are imagining something we have already seen. Something that has been presented to us. That’s why we can see it so clearly.

So often what we feel are our own desires and wishes are really just echoes of images of someone else’s story. We are surrounded by powerful images of what life should look like. These ideals come to us fully formed and bursting with all the wisdom that can only be gained with hindsight. These powerful, moving ideals come with a seductive clarity, and take on our own uncertainty. And so our unique but hard to envisage path is unjustly pitted against a perfectly formed vision.

To live a life that is truly ours we have to be willing to embrace the unknown in our path. We need to be willing to not hold on to any vision too tightly. Visions of the future can provide wonderful inspiration, but they are not a mould for real, complex lives to be squished into. The art of living wholeheartedly demands a willingness to stay open to the twists and turns that will present themselves on our distinct path. It demands of us the willingness to learn to view the limitations of our situation not just as setbacks but as opportunities to walk down a road that is uniquely ours.

The beautiful truth is that creativity thrives on constraint. Our minds often work better within the boundaries of limitations than they do in the endless sea of potential. Boundless potential is often more paralysing than mobilising. As much as we struggle to accept it, limitations, like adversity, lead to growth more often than an easy ride down the well-trodden path.  

While musings such as these can feel like nebulous philosophical concerns, they are in fact an approach to life that can be applied across the spectrum of experience all the way down to smaller matters of daily living. Whether we cling to ideas of how things ought to turn out or cultivate an openness toward an element of the unknown, can influence how we relate to the outcome of all that we attempt to do.

In part two of this blog post I will consider how cultivating a willingness to embrace the realities of our situation rather than force fitting a vision, can be beneficial for helping us to create homes that truly serve our lives.   

cosy daybed by a huge window

natural organic living room decor with plants hand dyed antique linen cushion covers in blue grey natural home decor with linen, wool and natural materials soft linen blanket in natural flax colour simple natural organic home decor simple natural modern living room decor

Images above show our Kapok Safari Daybed Mattress in Plain Stripes (used as a sofa cover), Safari Daybed, Kapok Safari Daybed Mattress in Soft Charcoal and Traditional Stripes, Handwoven Cotton Cushion Covers  and Extra Large Hand Woven Cotton Cushion Covers in Soft Charcoal and Plain Stripes, Handwoven Tasselled Merino Wool Blanket, Handmade Crushed Linen Blanket in Natural, Hand Dyed Velvet Cushion Covers in Bruegel’s Babel and Hand Dyed Antique Linen Cushion Covers in Jupiter as Fog.