Mindful Mondays: William Saroyan (and Ernest Hemingway)

Each Monday, I would like to share a reminder about the importance of being mindful.  These will come from literature, popular culture, music--anywhere one might get this sort of everyday life nudge.

I saw the following quote a few months ago, credited to Ernest Hemingway.  And although I loved the quote, I felt it seemed a little verbose for the famous wordsmith.  Upon further investigation, despite overwhelmingly falsely attributed to Hemingway, I discovered the quote was actually written by William Saroyan, an American writer and an influential, though underrated, mid-20th century literary figure.

"The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough." 

- William Saroyan

Saroyan is best known for his Pulitzer-winning 1939 play entitled The Time of Your Life.  The quote is Saroyan's advice to would-be writers and it comes from the preface of his book The Daring Young Man and the Flying Trapeze, a collection of short stories from 1934.

To the best of my knowledge, the following quote is by Ernest Hemingway, and ties in nicely with the business of the first quote:

"In order to write about life, first you must live it." 
- Ernest Hemingway

Knowing these quotations were penned as advice to writers, I have concluded advice for writers is actually advice for mindfulness, because mindfulness--being aware, being present, being perceptive, being alive is what writing, what sharing, what experiencing life is all about.

It has been said that "Art imitates life," likely because we write/ draw/ paint/ sing/ move/ hum what we know; art demonstrates what life truly is.  Art is a reflection of the life people have lived.  And although we are not all writers on a daily basis, we all have the opportunity to experience life fully by, as Saroyan suggests, being "wholly alive."

Source: William Saroyan Society