It's back to school time, and though my students are adults, I've been thinking a lot about how much we can all learn from my cousin's five year old sons. Though I don't see them as often as I'd like, I have always loved watching them play. The twins just started kindergarten.
I realized that one of the things I love see most is that they haven't learned that they "can't" do something, or can't do it in a certain way (kitchen knives and hot pans aside). They are discovering new things every day.
As we grow up, we learn we are better at some activities than others. We are encouraged down different paths. We begin to be assigned labels. We practice different skills.
Yes, some things come more naturally (I have never been able to understand car engines, no matter how hard my father tried), and we generally like doing things we excel at, but we also build the muscles we use. For me, those are often creative in nature. The way I see. How I solve problems. The tools I use to make images. And it isn't easy. I hear people talk about talent like it's something that just shows up, delivered by the proverbial stork. Or Santa Claus.
Like many people, I've had my share of ruts and setbacks. This happened recently (for two years) and I felt so frustrated and confused by this art of mine. I kept pulling out the camera because I knew I had to do it - I had to stay alert and I also needed to stay connected to the pathways through my brain and heart that seek out the beautiful and the curious. I knew I was making something, but I couldn't see where it was going.
After conversations with friends, therapy sessions, a few bottles of wine, and travels from one coast to the other and back again, one day, sitting in an airport, all of the pieces came together. After two years, I finished the body of work within a few weeks. As my life came into alignment, so did my art. The day I put the final words to paper to describe this journey, I submitted the work for the first time. And now I sit in wonder that this creation is a finalist in Photolucida's Critical Mass. I received the email a few days ago and haven't been able to find words to adequately express my humble gratitude, my shocked amazement.
One body of work is now complete and slowly making it's way out into the world. Another hangs from magnets in my office - resequenced daily. It is still growing. This weekend I began planning something new and I am excited to see yet another path for exploration. Another way of working with love, longing, connection, memory, home.
Today I write to remember this moment and to celebrate the triumph of continuing to create, whatever comes next. And I write to thank you for traveling through this journey with me.