I recently spoke in Milwaukee for the Symphony Orchestra’s annual fundraising luncheon and tabletop setting auction. It was a great event, well attended by many patrons of the arts. Milwaukee has a breathtaking new addition to their art museum, a fascinating architectural history, and perhaps the largest collection of clocks on church towers and more, that I have seen. Knowing that they were interested in my heritage, particularly Frank Lloyd Wright, I created a presentation centered on three life truths. I illustrated these with great grandfather’s life, my godmother, and Mother. They are truths we can all benefit from.
Creating a Unique and Original Life In order to lead an original and unique life, we do have to think outside of the box and create our own rules and guidelines for accomplishment. The best among us always have done so, and this is one of the lasting legacies of Frank Lloyd Wright. He never played by the rules, but instead established his own path and despite the many naysayers created architecture well ahead of its time. His designs still serve as an inspiration today. Many said he couldn’t do what he in fact did. They said it wouldn’t work, wouldn’t stand the test of time, and would collapse. While many of his projects do undergo extensive renovation, the innovative concepts presented in such properties as Fallingwater and the S.C. Johnson Wax Plant are timeless and blazed a trail of originality.
The Choices We Make We are each the sum total of the choices we have made to date. If we want a new reality, we have to make new choices. After all, the very definition of insanity is to do the same thing always and expect a different result. When we change our actions, we change our results.
A perfect case in point is my Godmother, Edith Head. At age thirty she was teaching French to an all girls school in California, and because she had studied a semester abroad in Europe the school assumed she could also teach art. She in fact couldn’t draw more than stick figures but took on the task. While looking in the paper one day, she saw a contest for drawing costumes for one of the major movie studios. Borrowing her student’s sketches she entered. And won! When showing up on the first day and being asked to draw, she was found out, but her courage and presumption so captivated the designer that he took her on and the rest is history including 8 Oscars for costume design over a 50-year career.
Life is in the Living Life is in the living, not in the stuff. Stuff more often than not simply weighs us down and stands in our way. In order to move forward, to continue growing and changing, we must let things go. Those elements we keep with us must serve as inspiration and memories, not as baggage. What you bring forward is up to you.
When Mother passed some 20+ years ago now, we each had only a file folder of mementos that she had kept (I have two sisters). This was such a gift rather than what I see so often with clients and hordes of baby clothes, bronzed shoes, elementary school artwork projects most of us would soon forget, broken trophies from days gone by and too much more. Mother saved the best, the things that really counted to her and hence they mattered to us. What better gift. The most significant legacy she left was the memories of times spent together, not the stuff left behind. When you live from your heart and your mind, not by your hand and your purse, you will truly know that it is the connections and relationships that define us, not our possessions. He who dies with the most toys, still dies . . . .