… on a crooked path toward a creative life
February 08, 2015
Yesterday afternoon, I was turning into my driveway, and the light was just right.
My trusty camera was on the seat next to me. I stopped the car and got out.
The curve of the snow-packed driveway as it wound through massive piles on either side was incredibly pretty in the late afternoon sun.
I clicked on my camera.
Like, at all.
And no matter what I did, changing batteries, lenses, talking nicely to it (and then not so nicely), it wouldn’t turn on.
And I had this flash of real worry that, if my camera had to go into the shop for a day, or a few days, or weeks what would I do?
How would I take pictures for the blog?
What if something just great needed to be snapped and shared?
And then, right in the middle of all that worrying…
I stopped and smiled.
Eighteen months ago, I was wondering what the next chapter of my life would be.
My nest was beginning to empty, kids not requiring the same level of hand holding (and, yet, still costing an awful lot of money… go figure).
I wasn’t panicked, nor midlife-crisised.
Just curious, and wondering.
And paying attention.
I knew a lot about a lot of things, some of which I found profoundly useful while staying at home.
I could teach a procrastinating kid an assigned recorder piece ten minutes before leaving for a school concert (thank you, Google). I could navigate mean girls, suss out dog and cat co-habitation arrangements, research and understand partial complex seizures of the right temporal lobe, figure out what off-sides means in a soccer game (just kidding. I still can’t do that). I could teach study strategies to dyslexics, and decorate an ICU room for Christmas.
Also, I once I had a career-that-paid-me.
I was lucky enough to be in on the very beginnings of the pre-internet intersection of technology and creativity – seriously, I was even at the first annual TED Conference (where we barely talked about the internet at all). I was in on amazing efforts, all over the world – from Pixar’s computer graphics to helping NASA figure out what caused the Challenger accident, to interactive television to counterterrorism (nope, not kidding).
Photographic proof of me at TED in 1990:
Photographic proof of me doing super-duper secret counterterrorism stuff:
Ya. I can’t show you that.
So here was the thing, though, my nest was emptying…
and, though I loved it then (I really did), I had no desire to return to my career-that-paid-me.
And I kind of wasn’t wanting to be aimless into my 90s (and hopefully beyond, if my brain and body want to support that).
And then I allowed myself to consider something.
My creative spark.
No matter how much we deny it, our mother’s voice is often the loudest in our heads.
And sometimes it is WICKED LOUD.
My creative spark had been dimmed by years, that turned into decades, of assurances that I could never make a living as an artist or a writer because who did I think I was?
But that was then.
What about now?
Was it too late to ignite that spark?
Of course not, damn it (always add ‘damn it’ after a declaration you aren’t certain about. It really helps.)
And then a huge realization wHacked me upside the head.
How can I look into my kids’ eyes and tell them to pursue their passions, whatever they are, if I am not willing to do the same?
So my brain pulled on her big girl underwear.
I joined a creative group on Facebook, and I was suddenly ‘surrounded’ with creative people, and their sparks.
I wrote my first ‘real’ post on my blog.
And then another.
The Nearly Perfect Husband read every single post, out loud, to me before I published it. Just so I could hear how it sounds (he still does).
He cheered me on when I signed up for Blog School (okay, Art of the Blog, taught by Five-Time-New-York-Times-Bes-tSelling-Author-Jon-Katz (he made us call him that. Fine. I’m kidding)).
And then I signed up for Picture School, which was taught by a professional photographer named Jeff Anderson. And I got my first ‘lens-y camera’ (a wicked professional term), and started taking better photos for the blog.
Then there was Short Story School (which also had a better title than that, but I can’t remember it).
And all the while, I was writing, and clicking away, and listening and learning.
And people started showing up here, and reading… from, like, all over the world.
So, the point.
Of course I was wHierded out when my camera wouldn’t work, because I need it.
I have a creative life.
Oh sure, I don’t get paid for it (yet), but I’m not even close to done.
The blog will grow and evolve…
Maybe a book…
First-Born Mac tells people about her Mom’s blog. She and Half-Kid Jack read it regularly. A bunch of their friends even follow it.
Mac recently told me that, when she gets married, she doesn’t want me to be her photographer because she wants me to be at the wedding and not be working at the wedding.
When she said that, my breath caught in my throat. Because she is wicked picky. I had no idea she thought I was good enough to capture her special day.
Number One Son Sam loves that he can tell people what he Mom does ‘for a living’. And he reads every single blog post, and texts me if one is particularly good.
It is not lost on me that this kid wasn’t supposed to be able to read the blog posts I now write.
And Gabe? Well, Gabe is still in high school. He gets a little wHierded out that his friends’ parents sometimes approach me about something I wrote. I take his eye rolls with a grain of salt. I figure he has to be nice to me. The threat of ending up on the blog is enough.
“A parent’s job is never done” is an oft used phrase, pointing out that we never stop worrying about our kids, or supporting them when they need us.
I think it means more than that.
Who I am, and how I live my life, continues to be a touchstone for my kids, and will be until I move on from this planet to haunt them from the other side (that’s my plan).
I once read that we shouldn’t worry too much when our kids don’t listen to us, but more about the fact that they are always watching us.
They don’t stop watching when they leave the nest.
They’re still in the audience.
And I want to make sure that, post intermission, my second act rocks.
and for me.
Thanks for readin’.
p.s., The camera? It’s okay. The card was corrupted and turns out the camera hates that. All photos already on the computer. All is right with the world (at least photographically) :))
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