Life Is . . .

“Life is like a trumpet –

if you don’t put anything into it,

you don’t get anything out of it.”

W.C. Handy


The month of May brings graduations, Mother’s Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Memorial Day – occasions when we focus for a moment on life in the big-picture sense. Writers can often help us see that big picture. Here’s an array of thoughts from a variety of writers on what life is, ranging from the funny to the poignant to the thoughtfully wise. I hope you enjoy them.

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.” – Hans Christian Andersen

“Life is what happens to us when we are making other plans.” – Allen Saunders

“Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think.” – Jean De La Bruyere

“Life is one long process of getting tired.” – Samuel Butler

“The first hundred years are the hardest.” – Wilson Mizner

Life is “a little gleam of time between two eternities.” – Thomas Carlyle

Life is “a B-picture script.” – Kirk Douglas

“Life is just a bowl of cherries.” – songwriter Lew Brown

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Life is a great sunrise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.” – Vladimir Nabokov

“Life is a gift, given in trust – like a child.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“Life is a lot like jazz . . . it’s best when you improvise.” – George Gershwin

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” – Marcus Aurelius

“Life is like a play: it’s not the length but the excellence of the acting that matters.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.” – Josh Billings

“Life is not an exact science, it is an art.” – Samuel Butler

“Life is a zoo in a jungle.” – Peter De Vries

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

“Life’s a Great Balancing Act.” – Dr. Seuss

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna’ get.” – Forrest Gump, fictional character created by Winston Groom

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” – John Gardner

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

“Life is a creative, intimate and unpredictable conversation . . .” – David Whyte


Nourish peace, cultivate loving kindness, and carry the calm.

Nature photo of the week:


Shadow of the Week:



Text and photos © 2016 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

A Soul Ajar

“The soul should always

stand ajar, ready to

welcome the ecstatic


– Emily Dickinson –


Leave your soul ajar this week. Watch. Listen. Hold on to what enriches you.

Nourish peace,

cultivate loving kindness,

and carry the calm.


Nature photo of the week– a tiny star-shaped bud, smaller than my pinkie nail, tracked indoors onto the carpet:


Shadow of the Week – made by the acanthus design of a window at the Frist Center of the Visual Arts:


Text and photos © 2016 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Chekhov’s 4 Qualities of Great Art

“In any true, great piece of art you will always find four qualities which the artist has put into his creation,” said actor and director Michael Chekhov. He calls those qualities the “Four Brothers”: a feeling of Ease, a feeling of Form, a feeling of Beauty, and a feeling of the Whole.

I just spent the afternoon at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, which is itself a work of art, built in the early 1930’s inFrist1 classicism and Art Deco styles. Ease, Form, Beauty, Wholeness, the building fits Chekhov’s definition perfectly. The main gallery is currently exhibiting a collection from a noble family in Spain, the House of Alba, which includes paintings by artists like Titian, Goya, Velasquez, and Rubens. Many of the paintings are portraits from as early as the 15th century, and it’s interesting not only to see how the people dressed and wore their hair but also to notice what else they wanted in the painting. As one description of the exhibit points out, “[A] portrait declares his or her intellectual interests, social standing, and values. Crowns, gowns, hairstyles jewelry, military insignia, musical instruments and pets all give us insight into . . . how he or she wanted to be remembered.”

Because, really, it’s the person, not the painting who is the greater work of art. We who are roaming the galleries are the masterpieces. In fact, in one version of ancient scriptures, St. Paul says, “We are God’s masterpiece” or poiéma in ancient Greek, which technically means creation or workmanship but became the word for, yes, poetry or poem.

It just so happens that April is National Poetry Month – a perfect time to think of ourselves as living, breathing poems, as works of art. I suspect that’s why Chekhov’s “Four Brothers,” those feelings of great art, call to the deepest places in us. Great art resonates with the desire of our souls for ease, form, beauty, and wholeness.

Great art calls to the art that is you. You are the art, the poem, the masterpiece. As you meditate this week, breathe into that place of ease, feel and accept yourself in your own unique form and beauty, and open your spirit to the wholeness that is around you and within you.

Nourish peace, cultivate loving kindness, and carry the calm.

Nature photo of the week:


Shadow of the Week:


Text and photos © 2016 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.


Far Away in the Sunshine