Random or by Design?

First the oil painting, then the story that inspired this art and the update. Is YOUR life random or by design? Ponder this as you digest today’s blog post. You may be surprised at where your thoughts lead you.

Watch me paint Porch Flowers in under 1 minute (time lapse)

“When we moved here, I didn’t know that the shrubs near the front porch were the flowering kind, until one day they burst out in beautiful pink and white blossoms. The flowers graced the ground when they fell, leaving a carpet of petals. The floral shower right outside our door was such a nice surprise! Sometimes in life we fear the unexpected- the call we don’t ever want to receive, the news we can’t bear- but there are times when the unexpected is a blessing. From the big surprises we didn’t see coming, to the small ones, an ordinary day can change in an instant over a cascade of flowers.”

- from book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Update to the above story…

A few years have passed since I wrote that description. True, it was such a surprise that first year we moved here and the shrub burst forth in gorgeous large blossoms, flowers that “graced the ground” when they fell. This makes me chuckle now, because “graced the ground” has morphed into “made a mess”, making the property looked unkempt and neglected.

 

The shrub was planted too close to the house, something we’d not have done if we were planning the landscaping. Now it is a nuisance problem that we have to take care of. It is crowding into the porch and blocking the sidewalk. The once-pretty flowers are now more like an infestation of blooms that blot out the shrub itself and shed petals that, after a rain, become slippery wet piles of debris.

“Porch Flowers” is a good metaphor for living a life by intention (by design), or letting random events and circumstances dictate our lives. As in all things, balance is the answer. Letting fate steer us can be exactly what we need; to learn about new paths. Sometimes fate is cruel, but often it is pleasantly surprising, like the welcoming porch flowers when we were new to the area and felt so lonely. I’m still grateful for that surprise.

But life, and evolving into a higher spiritual place, is about changing. Whether we want to or not, the world grows around us. Sometimes random events of the past create problems for the future if we are unwilling to take control and shift gears from a reactive, defensive and passive existence to one of deliberation, intention, and active design. The predestination of our lives doesn’t exclude our participation in the planning.

When you think about your life today, how much of your daily routine is a result of random events, and how much of it is by design? What might improve for you if you plan an area of your life that has overgrown its place? What was once pleasing and wonderful may now be a disheveled mess.

Today, my husband and I will be trimming the overgrown shrubs and trees that surround this house. We are renters, due to circumstances that uprooted us from the home we’d built and loved. But our journey back toward living in our own home is not as long as it once was, and we’re already planning our future flowers, shrubs, and trees in our hearts.

Acceptance of fate, random events, and forced circumstances is a necessary skill for a happy and positive life. But, few journeys stay on the same road indefinitely. At some point the terrain changes and the path narrows. There are forks in the road and choices to make.

 

What then? Do we let fate decide? Do we flip a coin, or let superstition rule? Do we say “this must be a sign” at the slightest random shift in the wind? Or do we live by design and intention, making a conscious decision about which path we will take next?

Balance. Let go and let the winds of fate guide your sails, but don’t let yourself be steered into the rocks. Recognize when it’s time to take control. Life by design can be just as freeing. Imagine taking the wheel of a motor boat and zipping across the unknown waters much faster than you ever thought possible. When you like where you are, you cut the engine and let your boat drift a while.

Reflection is meant to be gently led. Metaphors are useful for applying to your own situation; leading not forcing.

 

  1. Imagine the porch flowers in your life, and name them (small picture).
  2. Next, imagine a fork in the road (middle view). What decisions do you see in your immediate future? Even small decisions can make a difference.
  3. Finally, imagine yourself at sea (big picture). What type of boat are you in? Are you being steered, at the wheel, or drifting?

 

Think about living by design… you may be surprised at where your thoughts lead you.

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