“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea.” – Herman Melville 

We made it.

The fourth and final installment of our “life as a work of art” series is coming up in a moment, but first, a quick recap:

In part 1 and part 2, we explored the analogy of life as a work of art, and what it means to step into your full creative power as a human being.

In part 3, we identified two defining characteristics of great art (and great lives):

Originality and Skill.

And today, we’re tackling #3…


How large and important is the theme of the great work of art that is your life?

As an example:

~2500 years ago, Lao Tzu decided to leave the world and head up into the mountains to spend the rest of his life in solitary meditation.

On his way out, he handed the Chinese Border Patrol a small book he’d written called Tao Te Ching; his core philosophy on Taoist spirituality.

Since that day, empires have risen and fallen.

Kings of unimaginable wealth have gained and lost global dominance.

Dictators and conquerers have ruled entire continents.

And we can barely remember most of their names.

Meanwhile a simple Chinese monk scribbled down 81 verses on his way up into the mountains, handed those pages to the last person he ever saw, and disappeared without a trace.

We have no photos, no videos, no IG reels — no idea what he even looked like.

But Lao Tzu wrote about universal Truth:

The ultimate theme one can dedicate their life to.

And today, thousands of years after his passing, the man who wanted to be forgotten has been remembered forever.

That’s the power of Theme.

So, what grand and important theme will you create your life around?

And be careful here, because your life depends on your answer.

Kings and emperors and dictators and Dan Bilzerians and Donald Trumps have all fallen for the trap of choosing a theme that society finds important… 

…The theme of money and status and power; of an overgrown survival impulse running wild.

But to a Lao Tzu, or a Nelson Mandela, or an Elon Musk — or anyone who has transcended the survival paradigmfor that matter — these men of “power” look like children hoarding toys in a sandbox.

Because the big secret, if there is one, is that a great Theme transcends you.

So there we have it:

To live your life as a work of art is to take control of the life you are creating, and expand into your full artistic capacity with…

Originality; a clear, self-defined vision…

Skill; sharp, well-crafted internal tools…


Theme; a grand, all-important idea worth dedicating your life to.

There is an unlimited blank canvas in front of you, and the paintbrush is in your hands.

I can’t wait to see what you create.

– T

P.S. I’m working at a retreat this weekend, so we’ll have a greatest hits issue tomorrow before taking a few days off.

(I should be back writing by Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how I’m feeling)

Have an awesome one over there and I’ll see you on the other side.

In the meantime, you might enjoy the 3 minute in-person version of the Lao Tzu story, here.

By admin

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