My favorite book of the year was A Beautiful Anarchy: When the Life Creative Becomes the Life Created by David duChemin.
Regular Das Haus von Ruh readers probably know that David duChemin has what I consider a must-read photography blog . I’ve always been a fan of his books and e-books as well. In fact, in 2016 I read three of his books and two of his e-books.
A Beautiful Anarchy is different. David’s other books are about photography, and while they venture out into philosophy at time, they are solidly grounded in making photos. A Beautiful Anarchy is about more than photography. It’s about art, creativity, and passion. It’s about the need to make art, and the tragedy of the many who bury that need. And it’s about life, and those who kill their passion for it with excuses of materialism and perceived safety.
Life is not in the dreaming, but in the doing. Don’t you dare get to the end of your life, your canvas clean and unmarked. There is no prize for the one who leaves his canvas clean, his scribbled signature in the corner the only thing to differentiate his own off-white rectangle of a life from all the million others who— too paralyzed by fear— have done the same.
As I read the book, I found myself nodding my head, then underlining sentences, then putting the book down to scheme, and more importantly, do. A Beautiful Anarchy is a call to action, and it served as inspiration throughout the year to get moving on my projects. The book inspired me to spend more time working on art, more time on work, and more time with my family.
Time is not money. If time were money we could borrow it. We could steal it. We could bank it and see our days compounded. We can’t. We can live it. We can use it to the thing we are here for, or we can waste it. But we can do little else with it because it’s not ours to control. It’s given to us in unspecified measure to wring from it what we can.
Time is limited. And you can’t spend more time on art, more time on work and more time with family, without cutting something out. A Beautiful Anarchy is a call to prioritize, to prune out the unimportant, and to expand your definition of unimportant in order to focus on what matters the most.
Were life longer I might have time to do it all, but I don’t, and so I make choices: do I do this, or do I do that? Seldom am I given the choice to do both.
A Beautiful Anarchy forced me to examine my life, what I spend time on, and even what I spend money on. Not just once, in a harmonic burst of rainbow-soaked enthusiasm, but throughout the year on a daily basis. It forced me to focus on my priorities, and jettison the rest.
Knowing, deep down, what you want to do with your life leads to a ruthless prioritization of resources. Knowing your time, among other resources, is limited, and knowing what you want to do with that time, allows you a profound freedom, even if that freedom is not always easy.
Read this book. Don’t wait.
But life has this way of getting in the way of deferred dreams.
The Complete List
- First Footsteps in East Africa
- The Creative Habit
- Palms to Peaks: The Art of Janet Edwards
- National Estate of Chambord
- Getting Things Done, 2015 edition
- The Mapmakers
- 100 Masterpieces of the 20th Century
- A Beautiful Anarchy
- Beer, Wine, & Spirit Drinker’s Guide to Colorado
- James Madison: A Life Reconsidered
- Château de Chenonceau
- Two Years Before the Mast
- Learning Unix for OS X
- Photographically Speaking
- Colonel Roosevelt
- Vision & Voice
- Making the Image
- The Magic of Black & White, Part 2: Craft
- On Street Photography
- Lightroom 6 Unmasked
- Winter in the Canadian Rockies
- Andes : The Print and the Process
- Extreme Perspectives: An Introduction to Mountain Photography
- Master the Craft
- Do the Work
- Wheel of Time Re-read Books 10-12
- Wheel of Time Re-read Books 13-14
- Star Wars, The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary
- The Guns of Avalon
- The Hand of Oberon
- Sign of the Unicorn
- Light House
- The Courts of Chaos
- The Atlas of Middle-earth
- The Great Gatsby
- Fate of the Jedi: Backlash
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Official Collectors Editon