Saturday, January 15, 2011

Paint a Life

I have an image of my 5 year-old-self in kindergarten painting a picture at an easel and the teacher running over with a look of panic on her face. Basically, I had taken too much paint and there was a river of red streaming off my page and onto the floor. My experiences in the craft world have all managed to look something like this since then. Related frustration over four decades will learn a girl to steer clear of such activities, I’m afraid to say.

As I meander my way through this new way of being in the world to try to need less, use less, stop more, listen more, create more, destroy less, I find myself venturing back into artsy kind of things, if only for my children's sake. It makes me shiver, I tell you! I understand the value of a good freestyle art moment but I continually have to face the fact that I’m just not very good at this. The result of my efforts usually ends up looking a lot like somebody’s blotch pad (if only ever beautiful by mistake). Though I do always manage to see something quite stunning in my mind’s eye.

My sewing skills go nicely alongside my painting skills. I just don’t seem to have the finesse to replicate what I see in my head and make it come into physical being.

I feel intimidated by women that I meet or read about (and men, too) that are able to bring this kind of creativity to light. I know there are other things that I’m good at but this makes me wonder how many women are out there stumped by something as well.

I am reminded that creativity can take many forms. It shows its face in music, cooking, painting, fashion, building or decorating houses, writing, weaving and endless other ways. I think even more importantly we can apply our creative selves in intangible ways when we organize social gatherings or community events, teach, volunteer, raise children, organize our schedules or our home.

I believe that where our imagination takes form in the world is where we are closest to God. Our task is to find the thing that makes us feel most at home in ourselves and in the world and see it through to completion. It may take a lot of hard work, and it may not even be the thing that we are best at. It may not be comfortable or easy or in our face. It may be the thing you least expect. But it makes you feel like you’re home.

Perhaps this is the best definition for ‘homemaker’. She or he who feels at home in whatever they are doing. That would be a good thing to strive to make, no?

The trick for me has been to quit focusing on what is most available to me, what other people do, what makes the most money, what I got the best marks at in school… None of these clues to finding my way have provided me with any luck at happiness or a sense of fulfillment. Instead, the gift of feeling whole has come over the most unlikely things, in the strangest corners and from the most unexpected people.

I propose applying a new equation to the search for a ‘right’ life. Where do I ultimately create the most, destroy the least, contribute to the greatest number and displace the fewest for my success?

Jerry Seinfeld said that we all design our own time. I love that idea. We are not the Creators of Life. We may or may not have wealth, health, youth or luck at our disposal. But we were each given a life to do with what we can with what we’ve got.

We get to create our own lives out of simple tools: our hearts, our time and our energy. And that to me is a home well worth making.

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