Object Dar't

May 21, 2012

An Ass With Stripes

Ok..I know that society looks at us and makes assumptions about who we are based on the decisions we make. And the plot in the story that is my life has always been the struggle to "conform." There is a part of me that has always wanted to just blend in and yet, the reality of who I am ALWAYS makes that impossible. Over the years, I've come to liken it to being a zebra in a herd of giraffe. While the giraffe's have always been a gracious group about letting me hang out with them, they spend a whole lot of time noting my stripes, short neck and and the funny way I run on these stumpy legs. :D

And it's always been a challenge mentally. When I was younger, I spent a whole lot of time wishing (and trying) to be a giraffe. At a certain age, I gave up. Then I moved into acceptance. I'm a zebra..so be it. And the last few years have been about embracing being a zebra and seeing the perks. Then just two weeks ago, I received a test. God/Life/the Universe has a really messed up way of doing that. It was like I was being tested to see if I REALLY want to be a zebra or not because I was presented with a situation where I could almost look like a giraffe. And guess what? I fell for it. :/

Because art doesn't pay the bills on a consistent basis, I decided that the "responsible, adult thing to do" would be to send out my resume and get a job. I did that on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, I got a call for an interview on Friday in Cambridge. I went. I got the job and was asked to start on Monday. It was the kind of job that for all intents and purposes, would be any giraffe's wet dream. So I skipped off to Cambridge! By day 3, I was surveying myself and the landscape. Here I am - a zebra - successfully doing the giraffe thing. I know myself well enough to know that I could have gone on like that indefinitely. And yet something was horribly wrong about it. Little red flags started appearing for me. Some red flags were logistical (like child care and transportation) but they didn't bother me as much as the little red flags that didn't have a name. I realize now what those red flags were: they're the ones that show up when you sell out and compromise yourself. Little signs written in chinese that say,
"You..are..an ass..with stripes!" *sigh*

I lasted all of 6 days and I guess depending upon your perspective, you could say that was 6 days too many or 6 quick days. As for me, I'm not concerned with the amount of time - I'm concerned with the meaning of it all. Whether it was 6 days or 60 days doesn't matter. I still threw my own "ass" under the bus because on some level I must still want to blend in with the giraffe's. I'm a little sad that at 45, after all the success I've had in 2 short years of being an artist, that somewhere inside of me I must not have FULLY embraced the fact that I'm a zebra. But I guess I'm also a little bit proud because 10 years ago, I wouldn't have recognized the test or the flags. I just wouldn't have been able to look at those 6 days and extract much out of the experience other than to say that I'd somehow (yet again) failed at giraffehood. Boy, I hope I can really get the lesson of being a zebra. Trying to be a giraffe has really been pretty pointless and stupid.

May 5, 2012

DAR't With a Purpose

This will be slightly redundant for those who subscribe to my newsletter (and I apologize for that) but an EPIC moment requires a bit of redundancy. I try not to insert too much personal commentary into my newsletter, preferring that it basically just stick to facts and information. My blog is really the place for folks to come explore the crevices of my brain, while my Facebook page is the place for folks to converse and exchange with me. 

So the latest art related development in my life is the installation of 3 enormous DAR's in the new Pediatric Wing at UMASS. It all happened at the speed of light. I received a call the first week of April asking me if I could create two companion pieces for Patsy's Woods (which is the painting that was used for my Copley Society of Art application.) I was told that I'd need to work quickly though as the installation would just be a few weeks later on May, 1st. And here's where Fate/God/whatever you want to call it - stepped in because within a day, I had created two sketches that were met with great enthusiasm. I was given a green light to paint them and by the end of the week they were both completed and out the door.

And so two things are on my mind about this experience. First, it was a reaffirmation that I simply am not in the driver's seat in life. For me, life is very much like what riding the train daily in the Netherlands was for me. I'm on this train (life) and I'm sitting next to other passengers - some stay on the train longer, others get off at the next stop. I chit chat with some of them, others don't want to talk. Some people annoy me or vice versa and the only thing we all seem to know about the ride is that there IS a final destination (death.) Everything in between the beginning and the end is a complete surprise. You might hope that the train stops at a certain station you've heard about and lots of times, it makes stops at stations that you simply wish it'd never visited. And even at times, things happen on the train - challenges. The only thing in your control are the choices you make in each of those situations presented to you while you're on that ride. I always try to make a concerted effort to just simply do the RIGHT thing - for ME. No one else but me. And there's great comfort in this approach to life. I'm seldom disappointed, most often surprised, have a lot of fun on the ride and at the end of the day, I'm almost always proud of the choices I made. So the recent UMASS commission has been both a huge surprise AND a lot of fun. The train just moved me along through the whole experience and because I wasn't trying to control anything - it went off without a hitch and in record time.

The second thing (and most important in my mind) about this experience is the meaning behind this development. I've always been someone who just wanted to "give" and "love." It seems like a bit of a freakish way to be and I don't know why I'm that way but I've quit asking. I've accepted that this is just how I'm wired. And there must be a reason because everything else in the universe seems to have a purpose on this planet. Why not too someone who just simply brings joy? And although I have no physical proof that this really is my purpose in life, I do know that the effect my artwork has on other people seems to reaffirm this.  I feel such a sense of peace and accomplishment when other people respond joyfully to my work. We live in a culture that seems to focus on shock, horror and trauma. Every horrible happening is broadcast. Every human failure is highlighted to death. And I seem to be swimming against the cultural tide - I'm bringing a smile to people's faces with no expectation, no requirement that anything be returned to me. It's just a "here, have some love" given freely. And as a result, I'm changing the world in a small way. I can see it! In the past, when I looked around, I saw a lot of grumpy, miserable, sick people. Every day I see more and more people oozing excitement, being supportive and loving to me. It's been an AMAZING transformation and my God, what a train ride it's been. And so in wrapping this post up, I guess I'd like to encourage every person reading this to try to let go of the invisible score-keeping that the world tells us to do. Give freely. Who cares about whether someone else has gotten away with more or even took something from you. Dig under all that emotional rubble that's collected on your exterior and find your feelings, then let them out. Let it be ok to love without having that love returned. Give to the world around you and never mind what you think you can get. It's your purpose in life and you can't imagine how operating from that place will literally change everything. It's the difference between heaven and hell and it's solely your choice!