My church hosts a music jam session once a month that includes an open mic for singers and other musicians to try out there stuff before a live crowd. It's called First Fridays, and I went last night--for the first time I'm sad to say, though it's been going on for at least a year--to hear my friend Reed play.
Reed plugs into the "art" of life better than most people I know. He really makes time for his creative soul, and it showed when he got up on stage. Some of the songs were covers, but I'm pretty sure some were his originals too. But no matter whether the song was his or someone else's, I loved the way he just gave himself to the music. He let the songs take him, and invited us to come along. To me, that's what art (and being an artist) is all about. It's having the cajones to engage with mystery and just see where it will take you...and what it will do to you.
My buddy Tim and I have talked about this "artful way" of living at length during our weekly conversations. When Tim enters an art gallery, rather than try to conquer it by taking a systematic tour of the pieces so that he can proclaim "I did it," he just wanders around, eyes and soul open, and lets the art call to him. Whichever piece draws him, that's the one he goes to. Rather than try to figure it out or deconstruct it, he lets the art have its way with him. He lets it impact him, paying as much attention to what's happening inside him as he does to what's going on in the painting or sculpture.
I think that's a great metaphor for the "artful way" of engaging with life...treating it not as something to be forced to bend to your will, but rather as though the world were a gallery full of art, and your soul is the instrument through which it fully comes alive. In that approach to living, what you do with your day has as much to do with listening to your soul as it does with reading your to-do list.
Impractical? Maybe. But I wonder if the real reason I don't live this way more often isn't because I think it's impractical, but rather because my fear of failing the to-do list has me by the throat.