You’re Going to Die.

Make good art.

Ryan J. Pelton

3 min read

a man standing in a canyon with the sun shining through the rocks
a man standing in a canyon with the sun shining through the rocks

We get 4000 weeks if we’re lucky (80 years). 28,000 days to live under the sun.

I spent the day at a funeral. Our good friend’s grandfather passed and invited us to celebrate his life. A life well lived.

Grandpa was deaf, and so was his wife. They both had a passion for the deaf community and spent their lives bridging the communication gap between the deaf and non-deaf. The impact of their work in the community is immeasurable.

The brother said something during the service that struck a chord with me:

“My brother didn’t have a disability. He just couldn’t hear.”

We all have disabilities. Some real, and some imagined. But everyone gets one shot at this precious thing called life. Some will get 4000 weeks, some more, and some less.

Many will squander the gift on things that don’t matter, and many will take full advantage of our weeks like grandpa and use them to make a difference. Funerals are good to remember these truths, and so are ancient texts.

The Bible is honest about the fragility of life and says:

“Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” -Psalm 90:10–12

The Wisdom of Numbered Days

We find wisdom in knowing our days are numbered. Our weeks and days aren’t guaranteed. Wisdom says these days will also be hard and filled with sorrow. Don’t be naïve.

So what will we do with this precious gift called life? These minutes, hours, days, and weeks given to us by a generous Creator. Will we waste these moments in anger and regret and bitterness of what could have been, or who wronged us, or what we’re not getting, and believed we’re owed?

Will will continue to tell ourselves this story, painting, film, or business we’re creating is a waste of time and effort? I’ll wait until the kids get older, or the time is right.

Or, we can make great art now. Great art in the literal sense and with our lives. The life the Bible says is God’s poem and workmanship crafted by the Divine-Artist (Eph. 2:10).

I watched a documentary about the actor Val Kilmer. He was diagnosed with cancer and lost his voice. He’s not sure he’ll ever speak properly without the help of a voice box. But Kilmer found other ways to make a dent on the world through his art. Painting, directing, writing, and encouraging others in the arts.

A life well lived.

A life poured out for others. Some see deafness as a disability, and others see it as not being able to hear. Kilmer sees not being able to speak as an opportunity to make different art, not requiring a voice.

We can see the 4000 weeks as precious and make something of them. Or, we can determine our disability is too great.

Life is Short: Make Great Art

We can keep making excuses or make great art with our lives.

Life is short and we’re all going to die. Wisdom suggests we understand these realities.

Reflecting on my life at the funeral caused me to think about the ways others try to determine our 4000 weeks. It’s easy to live in someone else’s narrative. Take the road most travelled.

Nobody is immune to grabbing the playbook handed down from parents, teachers, and our faith communities assuming this is My Path. We spend little time reflecting on our own desires, gifts, passions, experiences, abilities, and opportunities. We just take what they expected, or what looks good, or pays the most and say: let’s go.

Life is too short and our weeks are too few to live the story of someone else. It’s time to take risks and choose our own creative paths.

Life is short and then we die. We can choose to live selfishly and make it all about us. Or we can choose to build something, make something, and give ourselves to something that matters for years to come.

We can make great art.

The world needs your best art. They need a life well lived. We only get 4000 weeks. How will we spend our days?

Grandpa gave his art to the deaf community. What art will you share with the world?