Janet Meinke-Lau

Art and Surf Blog

Conversations around the process of creating and being an artist and surfer.

Zoe and Bios

I've come across the Greek words zoe and bios in two books that I'm reading/listening to right now - "The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life" by Twyla Tharp and "The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World" by Lewis Hyde. (Though I'm not yet finished, I would highly recommend the latter to artists and non-artists alike).

Both zoe and bios are words for Life. Bios for the life of an individual, finite and mortal, and zoe for the infinite and general phenomenon of life, the immortal life that is unbroken, that continues on. "The Gift" talks about gifts in respects to zoe.. a true gift is one that gets passed on and keeps giving. It nourishes and grows because it is passed on. Examples include:

  1. Nature. If we treat nature's resources as gifts, like many Native American tribes (or Native Hawaiians) did, then they continue to give and nurture and grow - magic! But if we treat nature's resources as commodities to be sold, used up, and hoarded as wealth, as capitalism propels us to, well, they're no longer magical, wonderful gifts - their gifts end. No salmon left if we over-fish our waters. No zoe.
  2. Eroticism/sex. Two lives to create life to continue life for generations.
  3. Love. The more love I give our kittens, Rocky and Zoe(!), or any pet or person really, the more love (s)he will show me - that love grows. Coincidentally, Zoe has been extra affectionate lately, and is more eager and willing to lie on my lap because I shower her with cuddles and kisses.

Gift and gratitude - it's the key to this life (bios) and perhaps zoe as well. It is a gift that I can create art, that it comes out of me and onto paper. It is a gift whenever someone sees my art and gets an intangible feeling - that (s)he likes it, that it resonates something within him or her - it's really something special that can't be forced. And it is totally a gift when someone chooses to spend his or her hard-earned money on something I created.

Below are recent paintings I was commissioned to create. Thank you, readers and clients, for all the gifts!

Janet Meinke-Lau