Faith Salie on how art can help shape our New Year's resolutions

As we count down to the New Year 2018, we've made some time for Faith Salie:

"Time is an illusion," Albert Einstein told us.  If you don't believe Einstein, listen to the ultimate Time Lord, Dr. Who: 

"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect. But actually, from a nonlinear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey … stuff."

Doctor Who - Blink - Big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff. by Darth Varda on YouTube

Who am I to argue, even though time seems real, and really unstoppable, especially at the end of another breathless year?

Sometimes art helps illuminate science. This past year, I learned two life-changing ideas from the world of art.

One is "pentimento," which I first encountered when I saw a drawing by the artist Henri Matisse.  

As I got closer, I could see that Matisse had sketched over and over and didn't entirely erase his scribbles. 

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A Matisse drawing with erasure marks.

CBS News

A friend explained this is called pentimento, which is Italian for "repent" -- to regret, to change your mind. Matisse, a master, left his stumbles for us to see, and the ghosts of his mistakes inspire us to strive not for perfection, but for creation.

The other notion is "kintsugi," which is the Japanese method of repairing broken ceramics with gold. 

The idea is that the cracks of something are part of its history and should be kept visible, even shiny! It's the art of embracing damage while making something whole. 

An object becomes more beautiful because of its flaws.

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Kintsugi - filling in a ceramic's cracks with gold.  

CBS News

What if we consider kintsugi and pentimento in our New Year's resolutions? The word itself, "re-solution," suggests we return to our shortcomings, chronically trying to solve ourselves again and again. But we'll never be perfect, so perhaps our re-solutions can involve being humble enough to shed light on our cracks -- and brave enough to repair them visibly.

Maybe that's a kind of time travel in which we make peace with past and future at the same time.

May we hold the moments of this New Year mindfully, like a big ball of precious, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff!

        
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