To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look… To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. 

– Henry David Thoreau

I have heard life described by some as a blank canvas, yours to create as you wish. To be honest, I’m not sure what my thoughts are on this.

I don’t know whether I truly believe you can create anything you want, that you can make your life into anything, from anything, or whether you are in fact limited in some way by situation, background, and predisposition which, whilst can be improved and developed, will always have an impact upon your life.

My views change from day to day, experience to experience.  But regardless of my varying degrees of optimism and cynicism, there is one thing I do believe unconditionally: that regardless of whether you are free to create your own picture from scratch or have to work within the lines already on the page, you are free to paint in any colour you choose.

I can choose to paint my day a bleak shade of grey, or vibrant orange and rosy pink. Regardless of how in or out of my control circumstance may be, I can choose whether to be happy or to be beaten.

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

– Henry David Thoreau


2 thoughts on “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts

  1. That is actually a very Buddhist take on life.

    We find ourselves in situations, regardless of if we want to be there or not. This is our reality, and no amount of wishful thinking will change where we are at in this moment.

    It is up to us to either accept it, and work within reality, or to be resentful, bitter, angry, and ‘wish’ for something different.

    Essentially, we make ourselves unhappy. We pick up that black paintbrush and paint our picture dark.

    Not all situations are fun or happy. But it is fully within ourselves to make the most out of what we are given.


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