“Still Life” as It Applies to Our Lives

Dear Reader:

Most of us who have ever taken a basic art class in school or college or perhaps gone to a painting/wine class where everyone emerges (at the end of the evening) with the same painting (made better in appearance by the amount of wine consumed) most likely painted a “still life.”

Still Life is paintings of inanimate objects (no animals or people) using common, everyday “subjects” like plates, cups, saucers,chairs, tables, food, flowers,  fruit, etc. Even though the “subject” is inanimate great artists are able to convey strong emotion to observers of the painting.

I chose this Van Gogh Still Life (for the title painting) because of the strong colors, but mostly because of the use and contrast of light, darkness, and reflection. When I looked at it, I immediately liked it…it spoke to me on different levels…some more explainable than others.

I just finished the first detective 

novel in the series and I spent as

much time looking for clues for

the title and its connection to the

murderer as I did searching for

clues to the “whodunnit” fictional

character in the book.

The clues were there…very subtle hints throughout the dialogue (being brilliantly observed by Chief Inspector Armande Gamache)…such as:

“Life is change. If you aren’t growing and evolving, you’re standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead. Most of these people are very immature. They lead “still” lives, waiting.”

“Life is choice. All day, everyday. Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It’s as simple and as complex as that. And as powerful. So when I’m observing that’s what I’m watching for… the choices people make.”

“I think many people love their problems. Gives them all sorts of excuses for not growing up and getting on with life.”

“They waited for life to happen to them. They waited for someone to save them. Or heal them. They did nothing for themselves.”

Haven’t we all met people or we, ourselves, experienced a time in our lives when we stopped growing and did little or nothing to help ourselves out of the fix. In a sense we became an object in a Still Life…not bad or good…just there…just existing…inanimate… but no longer really living.

In the Still Life detective novel…Chief Inspector Gamache begins to look for someone whose status in life depicts a man or woman who is no longer growing in his/her life…but more importantly someone who has stopped growing UP. Someone who wants everything for nothing. Someone who has become a “still life.”

Life is hard to define but one thing we can all agree on is the basic understanding that life, itself, is definitely NOT a Still Life. Wrong metaphor there.  Life is never still. Life is constant…like a waterfall flowing over a mountain.

And..for better or worse, at the age we all are now…we are the products of the choices we have made in the past leading to where we are at present. This doesn’t mean that we still can’t change and become the person we want to be or God expects us to be…but it does require making better choices to detour onto the right path.

So until tomorrow…Let us take advantage of the choices we can still make to reach the goal we know will define us as the person by whom we want to be remembered. Let it be an “Active Life” painting of ourselves and not a “Still Life.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

I can definitely tell you someone who is not a “Still Life” and that is Honey Burrell. I texted Honey over the weekend and asked her if she remembered the name of the company that makes these wonderful “tomato” knives (we always got ours together at the St. Andrews Tea Room in the spring)…perfect for cutting a tomato as thin as you want.

I forgot and put mine in the dishwasher and the end got bent and out of whack…it also lost its sharpness. So I just wanted to order another one. I didn’t get the name of the company back from Honey, instead she sent me another brand new tomato knife, along with other fun goodies.

Honey will never be a “Still Life”…but a Miss “Amazing Life.” 


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to “Still Life” as It Applies to Our Lives

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    And guess what? Honey had so much love for others all her life until she was never a “still-life”. Her parents must have known something when she was born to have called her Honey. Strange that your blog had so much to do with making choices, and that was the topic of our Pastor’s sermon last Sunday. When that happens, I always wonder if that is a nudge for me from God.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Me too Jo….I think God sends me a lot of “nudges”…little God Winks daily to help me re-direct a thought of action…my built-in Babysitter!


  2. bcparkison says:

    What a sweet,wonderful friend you have.


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