Some few years ago, before I married and became a mother, I read this startling verse in the New Testament book of 1 Thessalonians:
…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands…
It was at once the most soul-consuming and yet disheartening directive I’d ever read. I was in my mid-twenties, blindly believing I was on track to Do Something and Be Somebody.
I did not lead a quiet life; I didn’t know anyone who did, save my own mother and a handful of other folks I counted as…well, as quiet. And mind my own business? Work with my hands?
Was I really supposed to swim upstream? Listen to the beat of a different drum? Walk those untrodden ways?
And yet, I wondered – what if I could leave behind my ambition to Do Something and Be Somebody?
Could I be happy leading a quiet life?
Could I be happy leading a quiet life on purpose?!
Shortly after reading 1 Thessalonians 5:11, I quit my job and left the sea for the mountains.
It was a start.
Out of the blue I’d been offered a full-time but temporary position as an art history professor at Western Carolina University. After a mostly quiet year, I decided to move to Texas to work on my doctorate. I could be a quiet professor, right?
The day after I flew home from Texas – a Saturday – my future husband double-parked behind me at a convenience store. In line, we chatted briefly. I went home and called my mom.
“I just met my husband. I think he might be ex-military, or an undercover fed. I don’t know. He just has that way.”
“Karen, what, exactly, have you been reading lately?”
At that very same moment, my future husband returned to his friend’s wedding reception, where his absence had been noted:
“Where’d you go? What happened to you?”
“I just met my wife.”
We were married two months later.
Fast forward fifteen years, and here I am: same amazing husband (the most interesting man in the world. Seriously.) and three amazing children. Whom we homeschool. One dog. One cat.
Two cows. Life is quiet…sometimes.
And sometimes it’s just not quiet, no matter how hard we strive to make it so. It’s still our ambition, to lead this quiet life, but it can get really loud.
I’ve been sporadically blogging since April 2013 as the Accessible Art Historian, and while I’ve enjoyed writing about art history on my first foray into the blogosphere, it became more a burden for me because of the evolving focus there on my life as a [plagiarized] art history professor.
While I’m still an art history professor, I wanted to have the freedom to write about life beyond art and its history. I couldn’t really think of a catchy name for a new blog, and since there really is a casual plan to finish my art history book someday, I took a friend’s advice and used my name for a new catch-all website.
That said, this new adventure in thinking out loud online is intended to be a breath of fresh air for me, and hopefully for you, too. In it, I’ll certainly talk about art and its history, but I’ll also share about our family’s reading life, and the inordinate amount of time we spend creekside, fireside, and
on the front porch in the pool.
And on the baseball diamond and at orchestra. And in the kitchen
and in the garden and in the pool.
And in the woods. And sleeping under the stars.
It will tell the story of our attempt at leading a quiet, harmonious, and simple life.
It includes my ongoing art history lecture series (okay, okay: it’s that half-baked book project), but more importantly, I want to write about about our education at home (we follow the increasingly amazing curriculum at Ambleside Online), and life as it happens, and perhaps even some of the art we find ourselves making around here.
And so this blog is becoming what I had envisioned, what I had hoped it would become, way back when I could see the forest but not the trees:
will be is more organic in that it may wanders a little here and there, following new growth while weeding out the dead word-trails. And I’m still primarily thinking about – and content writing about – the art of living simply and learning deeply in the midst of the daily struggle we all face as we resist the siren call of living life in the realm of the lowest common denominator.
If you’d like to contact me, please leave a comment below, or write kacmcarthur [at] gmail [dot] com.
Thank you for taking the time to read my words.