FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, Living Room from the Francis W. Little House, Wayzata, Minnesota (1912-1914). The room is nowadays re-installed as close to it´s original appearance as possible at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo copyright by Scandinavian Collectors 2016.
What should you do in your 20s to avoid regret in your 30s and 40s?
The scariest thing about getting older isn’t aging. It’s watching all the possibilities life had when you were younger are start to decay. Virtually every day you’ll be hit with the question, “So this is it, huh?” and the sickening realization that you understand people who commit suicide more and more with each passing day. Life takes on an increasingly meaningless and tedious feeling as you get into your 30s.
One of the best ways to get through these doldrums is to have an interest you really care about outside of work, friends and family. Something that no matter how much your life sucks you can still do and find satisfaction and meaning in and nobody can take away from you. The thing is, it takes time to nurture a hobby so that has this effect. The better you get at something, the more you tend to enjoy doing it. Being able to do something at an advanced level usually increases the value and satisfaction derived from your work. For example, how much more would you enjoy woodworking if you had tremendous skill and could build wildly beautiful museum grade furniture that people would cherish rather than another crappy birdhouse? How much more would you enjoy playing piano if you could play Chopin like a concert pianist instead of just Ode to Joy?
Of course you can start a hobby at any age, but it’s a lot easier to get to the point where it really starts paying dividends if you put in the hours in your 20s. I know so many 30 year olds who don’t do anything besides watch tv and drink. All the hobbies they used to have were motivated primarily by a desire to impress the opposite sex and without that energy they just don’t care about anything. They’ll usually pop out a couple kids to make their life feel like it has some kind of purpose. But that’s a selfish and reckless reason to have kids. If that’s your reason for having kids, that they’re essentially a form entertainment you’re using to fill the existential void in your heart, then you’re probably not going to find what you want in parenting.
More than anything in your 20s, it’s important to find at least one thing you do for no other reason than because you want to do it and you think it’s important to the world. It doesn’t have to be mind blowingly critical to the human race. What matters is that you care about it and think it has value. You have to think it’s worth doing for its own sake and do it for that reason, too, not because you think it will make your life better. Finding meaning in life is like finding happiness: you can’t walk right at it or it’ll run away. Do something you would still do even if ever other person on Earth was dead, something you could do without an audience and be happier just knowing that it happened.
In Kaari Upson’s recent work, she transforms the soft, flaccid forms of upholstered furniture into solid sculptures. To make the work on view in the 2017 Biennial, she worked from a sectional sofa she found in a Las Vegas tract home and then left in the driveway behind her Los Angeles studio for a year and a half, casting its sections in urethane again and again. In this studio visit, she discusses her process.
Detail of an ancient Egyptian wooden chest, showing a king making an offering to the crocodile-god Sobek, with a demotic inscription above. Artist unknown; 1st cent. BCE (end of the Ptolemaic or beginning of the Roman period). Now in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. Photo credit: Walters Art Museum.