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The Art Of Living

“Shmatta, shmatta, shmatta, I can’t give it away on 7th Avenue, This town’s been wearing tatters (shattered, sha ooobie shattered)” Keith Richards / Mick Jagger

Life like anything else in our existence is something that we can improve. The trick with life is understanding what it’s all about. 

painter painting photoSpeaking from experience life is full of lies. The government doesn’t work for the people, the religious people aren’t holy, the police aren’t righteous, the list is very long. I bring up this important aspect because we are taught these falsehoods as absolutes. For example in the Catholic Church we couldn’t challenge what was taught by the priests, nor in high school could we raise objections to the way we were being treated.

When I went away to college I found out a great deal of what I was taught was, in fact, a lie. In reflection, I think this fueled the fires inside my mind and contributed to my plummet into the dark realms of mental illness. I found that the world was, in fact, insane and illogical. Furthermore, most people know that the world is a lie and perpetuate that lie.

Finding myself committed to a psychiatric hospital was a very humiliating experience. It was the bottoming out on what to that point was a most unpleasant life. But when one has lost everything the only way to go is either up or to end their life. It is my belief that every human being, at one time or another in their life had contemplated suicide. This holds for those who have nothing and to those who have immense wealth and power. So much of life is circumstantial. Billionaires have as many problems as the poor person in Africa struggling to live on a pittance. The nature of the problems are drastically different but nevertheless, both existences are full of woes.

So when I had lost my mind I had to reevaluate my life. For me, I had recently converted to Bible-based Christianity so I was pointed in a certain direction. Not that I didn’t have my doubts and anger. I spent many the day in the back yard smoking my cigarettes cursing God. Losing one’s mind is an extremely traumatic event, it is universe shattering. But as I lived I struggled and eventually overcame.

My first realization was that in life we only get one pass through it. That for better or worse, I was dealt a specific hand of circumstances and what I did with them was entirely up to me. For me, I wanted to return to the ‘real’ world and get a job. I have seen so many of my comrades of shattered minds forsaking all hope in this life. Their existence reduced to smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. I wanted more and I was willing to struggle and fight for it.

Despite wanting to return to a normal life I had to recognize that the idea of living to make money was an empty fallacy. At engineering school making a lot of money motivated the students to endure the rigorous curriculum. At engineering school, I had a job with the development office and I met many rich and ‘successful’ alumni. I discovered that money, in fact, did not bring happiness. So what did?

The whole idea of the Bible is to emulate Jesus Christ. The historical Jesus and the Jesus of the Bible was both the  Son of God and some homeless wandering teacher. He slept in gardens and lived off of donations from followers. Jesus primary lesson was teaching us how to love one another. Also, Jesus rejected the materialism of this world taking the way of suffering in the cross as a painful and agonizing alternative.

So to me, life’s challenge became a task as to how I could express my love for my fellow human beings. This meant being friendly, courteous, kind, generous, among many other things. Also, I invested a lot in life as far as learning went. I explored other worlds that were foreign to me. In particular, I learned about the struggles of Africans in America, the indigenous peoples of this land and the working class. These three groups viewed reality in a different way than I did, or should I say how I was programmed.

So then let me present to you the Art of Living. We all are painters before the canvas and the actions of our lives are strokes of a paintbrush. Let me ask you what are you painting? Is it a gigantic dollar sign? Is it the American flag? So much of life is indeed circumstance. We are born into a certain lifestyle. It is ludicrous to believe that we are all equal or that we have the same opportunity. Yet a large extent of life is what we make of it. If you haven’t decided what you value most in life you are meandering the fields of existence on a purposeless journey.

Well due to personal circumstances I haven’t been at this blog for a while. I will fill you in in the upcoming days as to my trials and tribulations. If you liked this blog please share and leave an encouraging comment.

As always I like to promote one of my books. Please check out my book of poetry “Polishing The Fragments”. What do you do when God shatters your life? You polish the fragments.

The Art Of Living

John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2019). The Art Of Living. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Feb 2019
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