Take a good look at me. I know, I know, the seventies were not at all kind, but this photo of me in my kindergarten play was a defining moment.
The little play we were putting on for our parents was all about jobs and careers. Now as an adult, I’d imagine that Johnny went home and said he wanted to be a fireman because he played with fire trucks, and Suzie went home and said she wanted to be a teacher because pretty much those were the only women jobs we knew about at age five, but “Little Mary” went home and had a complete emotional breakdown!
I remember this like it was yesterday, we were sitting in my grandmothers living room and my mom was running through every single job she could think of, trying to give me ideas of what I could be when I grew up. Nurse-No. Teacher-No. Hairdresser-No. Nun-No. Garbage woman – No. It went on and on. Now I remember my grandmother chiming in and wondering why on earth a child would need to know what they wanted to be in kindergarten? This is a good question, they obviously don’t, and I’m sure it was just a cute way for my teacher to have a theme for a little play, but for this “Little Mary” it was VERY IMPORTANT.
I have had this extreme intensity about my “job” on this planet since age 5. If I recall, I tortured my mother for three weeks and then she finally told me to just go to the play as something I liked to do. This is how it went:
“I’ll be an ice skater when I grow up, that’s what I want to be. I’ll be an ice skater when I grow up, just you wait and see!”
That’s all there was to it. Kids got up, sang the little ditty and then it was over.
Not for me though and I’ll confess, I’ve never been much of an ice skater.
I’ve been silent for the last month, wondering what this whole 365 adventure I went on was all about.
I know it was about making time for art – after being an at home mom for 8 years I was about to burst.
I know it was about tackling my fears – fear of creating art after a decade and trying art materials I wasn’t familiar with.
I know it was about improvement– I had to oil my rusty hinges.
It was definitely about creating discipline and a routine in my life.
It was about declaring to the world that I do want to be an artist.
But there was more. I truly believed that if I tried really hard each and every day, if I focused solely on me doing art, I would emerge 365 days later with the answers to life’s questions.
Who am I and what is my purpose on this planet?
365 days later. I never found the answer.
The entire year, I was thinking the way my kindergarten self would think, my inner child.
The world wants an answer. Am I a painter? Potter? Sculptor? Print maker? Teacher? Jeweler? Decorator? Writer? Designer? Mom?
I sincerely wanted to leave 2013 with a concrete answer. A description to add below my name on my business card. An answer for the countless human beings that cross my path and ask me “what do you do for a living?”.
Well a 365 was a great way to force me to embrace and let go of the question.
I am all of these. I am none of these.
They are just things one must do in a capitalistic society to earn ones pay, one’s way, one’s respect, one’s standing.
These things are very real, but they are not the question nor answer I seek.
I want to know my purpose.
What has surprised me about the entire year’s journey is the blogging. I put absolutely no forethought into blogging. In fact, up until a week before my challenge, I had never even read one. I only saw my blogging as a way to prove or document my art making.
It has become so much more to me. It has become a form of communication and connection to the world and to the people in it. When I have joy to share, there are other’s sharing their joy. It multiplies. When I have angst and fears, there are other humans on this planet that reach out to me to share their own fears and to remind me they pass and make you stronger.
These are purposes that could sustain my soul; communicator, connector, sharer, educator, creator, inspirer.
Yep, I’m not quite ready to put any of those words on my American business card, but nor am I going to ask the question any more.
This upcoming year, my fortieth year, will be about quality not quantity. It will be about asking the deep questions, the inner questions and it will be way less about the outer.
I am going to stop seeking and start being. I’ll need help, reminding and guidance,
but if you let me, I will share it with you.