Bringing Beauty into Our Lives

Part of 9 of in
By Makoto Fujimura
Apr 01, 2016 | min read
Part of 42: Hands On
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AS A NEWLYWED COUPLE, my wife and I began our journey with very little. Judy and I got married after college in the summer of 1983, and moved to Connecticut for Judy to pursue her master's degree in marriage counseling. I taught at a special education school and painted at home. We had a tight budget and often had to ration our food (lots of tuna cans!) just to get through the week.

One evening, I sat alone, waiting for Judy to come home to our small apartment, worried about how we were going to afford the rent, to pay for necessities over the weekend. Our refrigerator was empty and I had no cash left.

Then Judy walked in with a bouquet of flowers.

I got really upset.

"How could you think of buying flowers if we can't even eat!" I remember saying, frustrated.

Judy's reply has been etched in my heart for over 30 years now.

"We need to feed our souls, too."

The irony is that I am an artist. I am the one, supposedly, feeding people's souls. But in worrying for tomorrow, in the stoic responsibility I felt to make ends meet, to survive, I failed to be the artist. Judy was the artist that day: she brought home a bouquet.

I do not remember what we ended up eating that day, or that month (probably tuna fish).

But I do remember that particular bouquet of flowers. I painted them.

"We need to feed our souls, too." Those words still resonate with me today.

Is Judy still right? Do we, as human beings, need more than food and shelter?

Do we need beauty in our lives?

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Makoto Fujimura

Makoto Fujimura, recently appointed director of Fuller’s Brehm Center, is an artist, writer, and speaker who is recognized worldwide as a cultural shaper. A presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003-2009, Fujimura served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts.

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