The wonderful Eve Redwater (http://everedwater.wordpress.com/) gave me a generous gift on my birthday. I’m not sure it was intended specifically as a birthday present, but it was aptly timed so I’m certain there was at least some synchronicity at work in the event. See, I operate under a very contentedly delusional science system in which I, the sun, am always finding ways that the universe and all of the wild diversity in it revolve around me and conspire to do good to me and for my benefit. On the heels of Lady Eve’s kind gift, I was contemplating how to respond appropriately to receiving the Versatile Blogger Award from her and, virtually simultaneously, both got into a discussion via several posts and comments on my blog and those of several friends (thank you, CF, Smidge and Co.) about the roots and responsibilities of our creative lives and was reminded by my own birthday that my late godmother’s birthday was imminent. And yes, they are all interconnected–what a coincidence, eh?–in and through me.
It all meets at that point of origins + inspirations once again.
Getting involved in blogging was quite a milestone in my progress as an artist: the culmination of a large push I’ve been making toward steady, committed practice and broader sharing of my work, and also a starting point for working with a marvelous new community of inspiring and educated peers and mentors in the online community to expand my horizons to places I can’t yet imagine. No surprise, then, that it also begs the questions of where I started, where I am now, and where I might possibly be heading. That’s what’s on my mind a lot lately.
A significant part of the whole equation is that I have parents who raised all four of their kids to be unabashedly themselves and do their own thing. Of course, being semi-normal mortals, we all had our periods of self-doubt, frustration with finding out just what our own ‘thing’ might be, and any number of other growing-up issues. Having loved to draw and write and do any number of similar, incredibly unworldly things from very early, I was haunted fairly often–not least of all in my undergraduate days–by worry about how ridiculously impractical and selfish it seemed to study, then major in, and commit to a life’s work involved with the arts. I mean, really. Mom and Dad patiently assured me at all points that I should do what I felt called to do and be who I thought I was made to be, and I thwarted all of their efforts with equal stubborn force of hemming, hawing and hunkering fearfully behind innumerable university requirement courses before I would willingly and publicly admit to my addiction to art. [Ed: I like that when I typed ‘art’ just now, my computer offered to “correct” the word by writing “artichokes“, so it apparently recognized that I was in such denial it wanted to help me by disguising my intentions even from you, faithful readers!]
The upshot of all of this muddling around and foot-dragging is that I approached my junior year of college without having dared to declare a major, and I skulked around like a sneak-thief in the hallways of the art building and spent significant amounts of time maundering and mewling about the whole ordeal when I really ought to have been simply plunging in and getting soaked in all of the art I could lay my grubby little hands upon there and then.
Oh, woe is me! Boo Hoo, and all that. I thought I was supremely talented at evasion, but of course my parents had a secret weapon trained on me from the very beginning, and it was activated during these very tenuous years of my faltering development. It was a pair of super-agents they called my Godparents. My parents, it happens, besides being nifty talents in the parenting department, had the smarts and/or temerity to choose as godparents for their children some people that took the whole parental-surrogacy aspect of the job quite seriously. Mine were a couple of Mom and Dad’s closest friends from the quartet’s days together attending (you may be beginning to feel the frisson of familiarity, the sting of synchronicity, here already) the very same uni where I was now paddling around in a diminishing spiral of destiny-denial. Furthermore, my Godma, as I called her, and The Godfather, as he was known to me (for being, thankfully, the polar opposite of that fictional character), had long since taken up employment at said institution as a Business Office administrator and head of the department of Radio and Television, respectively. So I could go and see my Godma when I was paying my tuition or trying to find out where my last scholarship had wandered, or just when I needed some bucking up, because she was seriously skilled in dealing with all of those aspects of my college life. Her estimable spouse was housed in another building, across Red Square from her digs, and I had a little journey through the catacombs of the old dustbin to drop in on him, which trek I gladly undertook on certain occasions when I wanted a different flavor of encouragement from hers, or–gasp!–artistic advice.
See, with The Godfather, I could go all clandestine and it seemed right in character, so I didn’t try to pretend with him that I wasn’t heading in an art-ish direction, though which one of many directions was still quite cloudy in my crystal ball. After all, there was that James-Bondish crawl through dusty and dimly lit corridors in a faintly creaky building just to find him in his office. And of course there was the visiting, during which he would puff away on his pipe and I would pretend not to see or smell it, because Officially he had “quit smoking” and his wife “didn’t know” he still did it. Apparently he thought that her willingness to admit to relation of any sort with me proved she was non compos mentis, and I was certainly in no position to argue that, so he pretended not to smoke and I pretended not to be coming in every time to whine that I couldn’t sign up as an Art Major because that was just plain irresponsible and stupid. I would go ahead, maybe, with an English degree and get ready to teach, because at least that might lead to, oh, I don’t know, a paycheck or something like one. My godparents, bless their dear departed craziness, never once chastised me overtly for being, oh, I don’t know, irresponsible and stupid by not doing what I really felt called to do and exercising what little native wit or talent I might dig up in my education to do what I was perhaps meant to do. But somewhere along the line the gentleman with the invisible pipe neatly skirted the issue of what-to-do by saying, in effect, Never mind what you think you’re supposed to do, or even what you want, this is about who you ARE. He proceeded to clarify by telling me that it was perfectly obvious to him and to anyone else that might have spent thirty seconds or so in my company that there were certain compulsions and eccentricities that I couldn’t exactly gloss over that earmarked me plainly as an Artist.
I won’t say that I never questioned the whole thing again, but somehow Mr Wise Guy pressed the right button at the right moment so that what my parents and sisters and friends had all been eternally encouraging me to do and be suddenly was revealed as so much more dazzlingly clear and excellent than when I had been studiously ignoring them and covering my ears and singing LA-LA-LA-LA! at the top of my voice to drown them out the whole time.
This is all a mighty stretched-out way of telling you that I still believe life and all of the fine creatures surrounding me in it work pretty hard to steer me in happy directions and plunk dandy gifts in my path all the time. That many supportive people and useful events in confluence led me down the primrose path of Art; that a life lived in the midst of said art connected me to a whole lot of additional supportive folk and dropped me amid numerous other grand gifts; not least of all, that opening up the stubbornly barred gate to my own artistic playground was one of the really great gifts life has given me and I can’t imagine not living life surrounded by all sorts of ARTICHOKES! ARTICHOKES! ARTICHOKES!
Oh, you know what I mean: Art.