Improvised Life » quotes If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 29 May 2015 17:56:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Chris Burden: “”Limits’ is a Relative Term” Tue, 19 May 2015 06:42:29 +0000

(Video link here. We recommend watching with the sound OFF.) We were stunned to hear that artist Chris Burden died last week at the age of 69. Known for pushing limits, Burden used his own body as art material in extraordinarily violent and shocking ways, until he moved into other forms of sculpture. Just two months ago, when we ran a video of his powerful Beam Drop, we somehow thought he’d live forever.

Then, we heard NPR’s 3-minute piece, below, about the artist’s last, wondrous work: a self-propelled zeppelin, and wondered about Burden’s path from having himself shot in front of an audience, to making such magical, meditative last work.  (more…)

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Wondrous Spinning Gif + Anne Herbert’s Inimitable Wisdom Thu, 14 May 2015 20:06:16 +0000

We love this beauty of a gif from the great intepid gif-artist DVDP. It reminds us of the very wise words of the mysterious Anne Herbert: (more…)

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Dive into A Flower for the Meaning of Life (Pollan) Tue, 28 Apr 2015 06:04:32 +0000

Maria Robledo

After we found this intimate image of blossoms by Maria Robledo, we came across this extraordinary passage from Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. He describes what we are seeing when we look deep into the blossom of a flower. It has deepened our view mightily of even the most ordinary deli flower… (more…)

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What if We Stopped? Thu, 23 Apr 2015 06:42:50 +0000

Stefan Sagmeister

Yesterday, we stumbled on Seth Godin’s question “What if you stopped?“, and….

…we did stop for a minute to think about it.

What if we stopped publishing Improvised Life?  (more…)

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Max Lamb: 40 Inspired Chairs + His Philosophy of Making Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:46:13 +0000

(Video link here.)  “Exercises in Seating” at the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan, is an exhibit of 40 chairs British designer Max Lamb has made over the past 10 years,  from elemental thrones in stone to boxy wooden chairs and and geometric stools cast in sand. It inspires serious chair lust and illumination into their possibilities. Even more compelling is this short video of Lamb’s process and the WHY OF MAKING…chairs or otherwise. (more…)

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A Powerful Spring Poem with Robledo’s Wondrous Images Mon, 20 Apr 2015 07:20:36 +0000

Maria Robledo

When we stumbled on this powerful little haiku, we thought right away of Maria Robledo’s wondrous flower assemblages…where we found another surprising haiku hidden amidst her Instagrams. (more…)

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Diane Ackerman: “Live as Variously as Possible” Thu, 16 Apr 2015 06:44:50 +0000

For our morning read, we opened our dog-eared copy of Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses at random and found this perfect, heartening hunk of philosophical cake, a perfect accompaniment to the great DVDP’s luminous gif: (more…)

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Must Read: Anne Lamott’s “Everything I know” Mon, 13 Apr 2015 06:22:29 +0000

One of the best, wisest, funniest book about writing and LIFE is Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. Written over 20 years ago when Lamott was 40, it is packed with enduring wisdom.

When she discovered she was turning 61 last Wednesday, Lamott decided to “take the opportunity to write down every single thing I know, as of today,” on her Facebook and the post went viral. We recognize some from her many books.

Here’s a tonifying excerpt to start your week — with our favorites bold-faced. (You can read the whole thing here.): (more…)

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Reflecting on Difficulty: 5 Questions that Transform Thu, 02 Apr 2015 06:15:20 +0000

At the height of a recent crisis a few months ago, our friend Chris Eldredge send me this note: I’ve been reading Jack Kornfield’s “A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life” and saw this. I thought it might interest you. (more…)

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5+ Happiness Generating Questions Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:50:00 +0000

As ever, Neil Gaiman nails it. But there’s a question in his wonderful words, one that many people we know have been asking themselves: What Do You Have that Nobody Else Has? What is the particular flavor/quality/aspect/talent/vision unique to you? And even more importantly, what are ways it can thrive in the world?

Ko Im over at Thought Catalog (via 99U) poses additional questions about ones SELF that he says will prompt you to discover patterns that point you toward greater happiness: (more…)

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‘Create Dangerously’ (Camus), ‘Every Wall is a Door’ (Emerson) Wed, 18 Mar 2015 07:52:12 +0000


In the final paragraph of Camus’ last published essay, Create Dangerously, we found this radical idea:

One may long, as I do, for a gentler flame, a respite, a pause for musing. But perhaps there is no other peace for the artist than what he finds in the heat of combat. ‘Every wall is a door,’ Emerson correctly said. Let us not look for the door, and the way out, anywhere but in the wall against which we are living. Instead, let us seek the respite where it is—in the very thick of battle. For in my opinion…it IS there…

…As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundation of his own sufferings and joys, builds for all.


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John Cage: Saying YES to Unpredictability Tue, 10 Mar 2015 06:52:01 +0000

We opened the John Cage’s enduringly great A Year from Monday and found this extraordinary set of questions*:

How immediately are you going to say Yes to no matter what unpredictability, even when what happens seems to have no relation to what one thought was one’s commitment?

The kind of YES he’s talking about is full committment: (more…)

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View Shifter: Mister Rogers’ Perfect, Tiny Meditation Thu, 05 Mar 2015 08:14:14 +0000

(Video link here.) Every so often, we check in with artist/educator Paul Zelavansky’s YouTube channel, where we find salient, carefully-edited clips of Mister Rogers’ wisdom. They are as transformative for adults as it is for kids. Zelavansky opened our eyes to the power of Rogers’ work.

“Taking a Breath” is a perfect .58 seconds to view any time you need a shift.

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Desmond Tutu on “Random Kindness” and Becoming “Life Artists” Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:08:59 +0000

Over the years, we’ve written often about the great Anne Herbert, the extraordinary writer that long-ago coined the phrase “Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty“, and the curious little book of that name that was published in the ’90’s. Long out-of-print, its charm and power continued to resonate, inspiring an updated edition, now with full-color drawings by its original illustrator, Mayumi Oda, and a moving Forward by Desmond Tutu that is, in itself, rich with wisdom. He writes: (more…)

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