Does the title of this blog post sound sort of snooty? I don’t mean it that way, but it seems in our current culture to talk about art, music, and literature is perceived as putting on airs or being fake. I disagree. Art, music, and literature are what separate us from the animals. Enjoying and incorporating the works of great composers, artists, and authors into our everyday lives elevates us. It can turn the mundane into something special. It celebrates the incredible God-given talents of others and it inspires us to use our own God-given talents, whatever they may be. Unless we live in a cosmopolitan city such as Paris, with incredible museums and amazing architectural wonders at every turn, we have to cultivate culture by intentionally seeking to learn more, listen more, read more, and observe more. It is not silly to think of the farmer’s wife in North Dakota listening to beautiful Italian opera while fixing dinner for the farm hands, just as it isn’t silly to think of the Londoner delighting in an evening of bluegrass music at the corner pub. By intentionally seeking to learn about the arts we expand our horizons, grow as individuals, and become part of something bigger than ourselves.
I’ve got a few simple tips for introducing a bit of culture into our lives.
#53 – Visit local museums and art galleries
Have you taken advantage of what is in your backyard or at least within 100 miles of your backyard? I’ll bet there are museums you’ve never visited, art galleries with special gems for viewing, and concert halls and theaters with events scheduled that may be of interest to you. I currently live about 40 miles south of Los Angeles. There are so many museums and theaters, concert venues, and art galleries that I have never visited. What a shame. Ken and I have talked about visiting our local museums, but we’ve not yet taken the time. We’ve made excuses because we’ve been too busy. I have to ask myself, “Too busy doing what?” Funny, we always visit museums in any country we visit, yet I’ve visited very few locally. I’m resolved to change that by taking Ken to the Getty Center tomorrow as part of our anniversary celebration. He’s driven past it for years with the thought of one day stopping in for a visit. We’ve decided to finally make it happen. Are there local museums and galleries that you’ve yet to visit?
#54 – Attend theater productions
You don’t have to live in New York, Los Angeles, or London to enjoy the theater. You may live close to a college or university that hosts theater productions or you may have a thriving local community theater. Perhaps within an hours drive there is a Performing Arts Center that presents theater, opera, or ballet productions. You’d probably be surprised at what you’d find once you begin to look. Going out of town? Try to fit a trip to the theater into your schedule. On a day trip to Nevada City, California Ken and I passed the local theater building. The box office was open selling tickets for the evening’s performance. Ken popped in and then came out with $5 tickets for front row, far right seats. The seats were terrible, but we had a great time. The same thing happened in London. We were so far at the top of the theatre that it was easier to stand up to see the tiny performers on the stage below. As there was no one behind us, we did just that. Again, terrible seats but a memorable experience. No matter the venue, cultivating a theater habit is a great way to incorporate more of the arts into your life.
#55 – Read some classic books
When I was in the fifth grade I was chosen with a small group of other students to participate in a classical reading program. During the course of the year we read The Jungle Book, Treasure Island, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Swiss Family Robinson, A Christmas Carol and several others. It birthed in me a desire to continue my education on my own. To date I have read hundreds of books considered classics, several of which I’ve read to my children. Reading causes your imagination to soar. You use your own imagination to construct the sights, sounds, and smells described in the written word, unlike television or movies. Not sure where to start? Just Google “Popular Classic Books” and pick one. I love the fact that so many of them are free on devices such as Kindle. So get started already!
#56 – Expand your music repertoire
I love music. I love the fact that there are so many genres. I love the fact that I can listen via radio, satellite, CD, iTunes downloads, or through my local cable television station. It is easy to find a way to listen to music; therefore, it is easy to begin discovering new music to love. We do ourselves such a disservice when we don’t purposefully cultivate a love for many types of music. I might turn on light classical music while cooking dinner or slip my favorite Andrea Bocelli CD into the player. I crank up 70’s classics while doing housework. I like to have music playing lightly in the background while eating dinner. When I’m in a contemplative mood it helps to have inspirational Christian tunes playing softly. Music soothes. Music inspires. I encourage you to find new inspiration in music.
#57 – Turn off the television
I don’t think I’m the only one that believes that television is contributing to the dumbing down of modern society. There are a thousand channels on television at any given time of day, but very few programs build us up, teach us new things, inspire us to greatness, or cause us to be better human beings. Am I right or am I wrong? Of course, television is a nice escape. There are certain shows that we like to watch as our guilty pleasure. No harm in that. I record several shows during the week and then zip through them at my leisure. I control what I watch and how much I watch. Usually. Sometimes my brain is fried and I just want to relax. I’ll turn on the television and begin channel surfing. I’ll watch a little of this, then switch to that. An hour or two or three goes by without me realizing it. Once in a while that’s okay; but every night? Every week? Every month? How much is too much? I’m challenging myself, and you too, I hope, to turn the TV off and pick up a book. Listen to music. Visit the art gallery opening in the next town. We only have 24 hours in one day, 730 in a month, 8,765 in a year. Do we want to give those precious hours over to mindless television watching? I certainly don’t!
There are other ways to cultivate culture in our everyday lives and perhaps I’ll write more at a later day. In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Do you consider it important to cultivate culture? How are you going about it in your own life and with your family?