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The Courage to Unfold


Potential Energy, page from 2012 Sketchbook project, Brooklyn Art Library.

Hello readers, Right now I am wrestling with the unfolding of the next stage in my life.  I feel the necessity of moving on, to leaving my current work, to shedding my current skin for a larger and more complex hide, to accommodate a newer version of myself.  I am leading myself to believe that like a seed germinating in the presence of appropriate nutrients, sunlight and water, a passive resting period is necessary to precipitate new growth.  As small children, we are closer to intuition, being primarily emotional and imaginative creatures.  Each child unfolds differently, some more slowly than others.  Each of our lives contains the potential energy and plan for the accomplishments and challenges that are slated.  For most of us, we receive early and lengthy conditioning that causes us to disbelieve in the seed that lies in the core of our being. I grew up believing that my seed contained an artist. In fact, my mother was an artist not unfolded, perhaps frustrated and convinced of her victimization by circumstance.  In any case, the idea was planted in my mind at such a young age that I was convinced it was my own.  At the age of three, I already planned to become an artist, and I devoted many hours and years to that vocation.  Many years later, my sister clued me to the possibility that art was not my own calling after all, when she told me that our mother never allowed her to draw.  She surprised me with the tinge of resentment in her voice. It had never occurred to me before that perhaps she too would have liked to draw and paint.  I had always seen her as logical-minded, grounded in the “real” world, not a dreamer like myself.   I never had sensed in her any inclination towards art.  In any event, I am grateful today to my mother for having given me the gift of art.  For if it was perhaps her desire for me to live her un-lived life, she unknowingly gave me a bridge to the invisible worlds of imagination and spirit, and a key to my true self.

Art and the process of creating images is magical.  To be able to suspend thinking in words and to immerse oneself in a sea of image, color, sensation, stories unfolding as movies is indeed a great gift.  As a child, I found the world around me as lived in my family to often be lacking in meaning, color, excitement, dimension.  I did not know what was missing, but I greatly wished to understand the world and to live in a world saturated with vibrant meaning, in which each moment not only makes sense, but in which I could create sense each minute I lived.  The seed within me began its unfolding through repression and through art.  It is only after many years working various jobs, ostensibly so I could make money and continue to make art, have I looked back to inventory those jobs.  My first jobs involved drawing images for tee-shirts and making telemarketing survey calls – not really consequential.  The next several years during my studies, I worked for the Reunion des Musees Nationaux in the various museums in and around Paris – selling tickets, supplying information to tourists, checking coats, guarding exhibits, and so on.  After that, I worked as a writer-translator for an international press agency for about four years.  We returned to the U.S., where I worked part-time in a bookstore specializing in rare modern first editions and books on film and books into film, while simultaneously running a French language after-school program, all for about three years.  We moved again, and I did some teaching of art and French, after which I started working for a public library system.  Basically, art, books, and writing have been my life, but never before recently did I really acknowledge my affinity for books and writing in a serious way.  As a child in elementary school, creative writing was my favorite class, along with art.  At one point, I believe it was in fifth grade, one of my teachers was highly critical of my writing, and she discouraged me.  I suppose I was overly sensitive, and in retrospect, I am saddened that I allowed her to dampen my enthusiasm for writing at that time.  Despite this woman’s impact on my life, I do not remember either her face or her name today.  I do remember that I read “The Agony and the Ecstasy” for a book report, and that I thought she should be sufficiently impressed by my taking on such a large and solemn work.  As you can imagine, she was neither impressed nor gratified by my efforts.

As this desire to write reawakens in me at this time in my life, I now question my initial love affair with visual art.  And then I think of artists such as William Blake, for whom drawing and writing were equally important and passionate engagements.  I feel that somehow, some way, my passions for the invisible, the mythical, for art, writing, healing can somehow all be orchestrated into a meaningful assemblage that is my life.  For now, in my current stage of unfolding, I do not yet see or experience the full picture of these connections.  As my biography is not yet complete, there are still some obvious lacunae.  Perhaps we, as humans, can have more than one blooming of our inner seed.  I am certain that my adventures in art and in France were necessary portions of my self-growth, and I am curious as to how the shape of my life will grow to imitate the image with which I was born.  I hope I am on the right track.

We are each born with a chart or pattern integrated into our deepest selves, and we spend our lives seeking to reproduce  in our bodies and on this Earth, with one another, a replica of this image.  Do you also feel that within you there is something urging you on, pulling you in a certain direction?  Do you also feel doubts and confusion at times, when the unfolding takes an unexpected turn, leaving you depressed, uncertain, lost?  I feel that to have a connection with invisible worlds that guide us is exciting and gives my life a cosmic direction and meaning.  Without the invisible image, my life would feel flat – with only social conventions to guide it.  While the seed inside me can be demanding and confusing, it is my anchor and my compass.

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