Meaning in not an Empty Word

Often creative people throw up their hands in despair of finding meaning in our postmodern world. But the find they can not give up on meaning. The word, and the illusory nature of meaning can not be ignored. It is not an empty word. It has a vibration of its own.


As meaning means something, an authentic life is possible. At the last instant, creative people return with a vengeance to the belief that a meaningful life can be led and that they are obliged to choose that way.


In our hearts, we opt for life. As Schubert-Soldern aphoristically put it, “To understand life, we must contrast it with death.” We force life to mean while we live, to have an authenticity. While I live, I can love, I can continue to learn things, I can help in some way, and I can create.


creative 3


Opting to matter does not answer every meaning question, nor will it compete your depression treatment therapy. It can not make a boring meeting more interesting or a mistake in a novel an interesting mistake.


A painter standing in front of a blank white canvas, an actor facing a mass audition, a singer performing a new composition for the first time wonder if all their efforts matter. Yes, they do. If they touch the soul of one person in a positive manner, they touch the world. This is important to remember for the gray days. This means that every day, sunny and inspired or grey and melancholy,we have a responsibility to live with meaning. You chose to be creative, an artist. Therefore, you have the responsibility to make your life matter. And be aware that each of them does.







Hate the rules

Hate the rules


Thinking out of the box

Thinking out of the box

The Ordinary Truth

What one determined woman can accomplish

What one determined woman can accomplish

Rosa Parks was right. We need to each live our lives to the best of their ability. Actually, there are ordinary truths and eloquent truths. The ordinary truth is that some artists can earn six figures for their work. Most of us can’t make that money with our creative endeavors. The eloquent truth is that this harsh fact does not mean you can’t live a authentic life.

Our creativity is a gnawing within us. There is something within that wants to come out. The really bad times is when it is scratching at you to get out and you are blocked. The ordinary truth is that you will make mistakes and not be able to produce what is alive and well within. We all fall short sometimes.

The eloquent truth is that this need not defeat you. Artists must never give up. You were given a gift and while you may not be Monet, you have a gift that must be expressed. What others say or don’t say about this doesn’t matter. The important thing is to use what The One gives to you. It is a part of you and it is a large piece of what makes you authentic. Being real not being or doing what others tell you, but being loyal to yourself. This is authenticity. As we reckon with our existence, we become more real, more authentic.

Love is real

Love is real

Another part of being authentic is loving yourself, loving the gift you have been given, refusing to think of it as a burden. And the hardest part is to not compare yourself to others. We are brought up to be competitive and that is not the way of the creative soul.

To live an authentic life is a challenge as well as a gift. And it is also a spiritual practice. Not in the sense that you are attending a church, synagogue, or temple. But in that you allow your talent and your spirit to meet and create. Art is a practical skill, a relational skill, it is gripping and consuming. It is genius and shines like a starry night.

It is also confusing, confounding, tedious, exhausting and frightening.

“The dream is always running ahead. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that is the miracle” —Anais Nin

We have freedom to create, to write, to sing, to paint, to draw. The challenge is to use it. Use all of it as long as you are still drawing breath. As long as we can draw breath, we can create meaning in this world. I have often thought about all of the artists who receive no credit for their work while they are alive. It is as if the work is insignificant. Then when they die, people are sad and they miss this creative being. They open their eyes because of the hole left because that person is not there any longer. They open their eyes and see, really see what has been there in front of them for so long. They declare it beautiful, stimulating, moving, heart stopping. That creative person can’t hear the compliments but they flow through the air like invisible rose petals on a breeze. And then the truth becomes eloquent. This person had a beautiful talent. I didn’t realize. I am speechless, but your creations are not speechless and will speak for you always. And someone will come along and they will see or hear your work and it will give them the courage to pick up their gift and dust it off. And they will speak with authenticity because you did.

Being creative is not easy. We are different from so many others, our lives are not always easy but you leave a shimmer, a glow in this old world. You create and it makes the world sparkle. So get out there and shimmer and shine.

Sculpture garden in Windsor, Ontario. Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 1997

Sculpture garden in Windsor, Ontario. Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 1997

No Greater Love

One of my heroines is Mother Teresa. This soul is what I always wanted to be. I didn’t succeed, but I am continuing to help the world however I can. I am committed to do this for the rest of my life. Life requires commitment to ideals, commitment to love and acceptance. Life requires that we love and accept others without limitation. Now, I know there are some that would say, she has never seen the rough parts of life. But I have, in person and close up. The world isn’t beautiful. You have to look for the beauty in people and all around you. God is everywhere and that includes within us. So follow the creative voice within and create the beauty you need to thrive in this experience. This plane of existence.

“Love each other as God loves each one of you, with an intense and particular love. Be kind to each other; it is better to commit faults with gentleness than to work miracles with unkindness.”
—-Mother Tesesa

Rumi talks about the ecstatic love of God. He speaks of the interconnectedness of all sentient beings.

“One part of the Whole is not separate from the other parts. The beauty of all flowers is part of the rose’s beauty. The coo of the turtledove is part of the nightingale’s song.”  —–Rumi

Our works of love and charity come from our overflow of our love of God from within. Charity is like a living flame. The drier the fuel, the livelier the flame. Showing gratitude for everything in your life, whether a little thing or an abundance, needs to be done with joy. A heart burning with love produces a joyful heart. Joy is strength. Joy is always hard and it isn’t just temperament. We need to work to acquire it and make it grow in our hearts. We may not always have a lot to give but we can always give the joy that springs from a heart which is in love with God. We need to love without getting tired. A lamp burns with the continuous flow of drops within the lamp. Compassion and a loving heart are the most important things we can cultivate and we will never run out. We were chosen for this incarnation for a purpose, we aren’t just a number. So explore life, embrace it with passion and find what God has for you.

Photo by Barbara Mattio, Livingston, TX.