"I count my pen-strokes and my blessings well…"
P*.S. The theme of the month (the past few months - and perhaps years) is a large and resounding “thank you”.
So as a P.S. (*pre-script) - I want to thank each and every person this doodle-letter is going out to: for being, having been, and who I hope will continue to be a part of my life. For the friends whose care and support made being painfully sick in Beijing bearable.For the mentor who takes time out of her busy schedule to listen to what I have to say.For the people who steadily bring new experiences into my life (e.g. who ever would have thought this girl would have fired a Colt? … goodness firearms are loud). For those of you whose drive and passion for your calling encourage me, by example, to constantly improve within my own life. A chance meeting with you, a kind word, musings over cup of warm coffee (or even a tepid bowl of dumplings…), time out of your day
… you’re a part of the small intimacies, which fold and layer into deep friendships, the stuff that makes this life truly worth it.
I finished drawing the “my-month(s)-in review" square (that pen and ink drawing right up there ^) on a Friday. A very long Friday. A 36-hour-long Friday.
Enough with the mystery: I’m drafting this on the first leg of my plane ride home — my fourth trans-atlantic flight in 3 months. I sit beside a 40-something Chinese couple. They speak lovingly to each other in their nasal, yet pleasant, northern accents. Excited of their upcoming vacation to the states.
I’m flying to the states as well: back to Augusta, Georgia. Back to one home while leaving another.
I lift my glass, cupping the body with my finger tips, and watching the pale yellow liquid sway within it. I take a quick sip. The sharp white wine spreads its cool flavor from tongue tip downward… my eyes travel downward too and land on the bag of jalapeño chips sitting next to my notebook. The Spice Girls are crooning something from the speakers by the bar. It was something One Direction before that. My mouth quirks up at the song choice: pop… through the decades. A woman is speaking animately into the phone, next to me. Spanish accented English. She pauses and takes a large bite out of her hot dog. Some mustard clings to her lips. Hello America. Hello LAX.
I take another sip of my wine, and read the final lines of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I’d ordered the wine, partially because I really like wine (:-)), and partially as a tribute to the lost generation of artists and writers who drank, ate, lived and loved in Paris of the 1920s. A tribute to the writers, painters, musicians who where, as Hemingway put it “very poor but very happy”.
As I finish reading, my mind moves on from the words and back to me. I think of my own life, in comparison to the one described within the work.
I am an artist. A writer. An educator. An entrepreneur. An apprentice in all of those things.
I also fear.
Fear to claim those names: for fear of being exposed as a charlatan, of finding my skills and talent lacking.
I’m still not sure if I “can write”. Still not sure if I can actually make a go of this career in the arts. Don’t know if my attempt to combine my practice in visual arts, passion for education, writing and storytelling, and community building is something I’ll later look back on as “visionary”… or simply a hodgepodge of a woman of 24 who “still” hasn’t figured out her place in the world. I truly don’t know when Jude and I will be able to finish building the Bottlerocket platform due to lack of funding. Don’t know when our dream of creating a platform for people to connect with each other via their passions —- and story-tell about their projects … well achieve concrete (testable) form. I’m not sure if I’m simply trying to do too many things at once (and thereby keeping myself from doing none of them well)… or conversely if all of the things I’m currently doing are giving me the experience and skills I need to do something even better in the future. And this uncertainty scares the hell out of me.
But I do know the following things:
- I finished my first fairytale/book manuscript this month - inspired by a Chinese. I know that in writing it, I was writing for an audience of children and youth… whom I’ve loved working with over the past 5 years.
- In managing and documenting my projects through the Bottlerocket design framework - my thoughts and processes behind my work have sharpened, clarified, and motivated me through my work. Even if I’m the only one testing it thus far, and even if this “internet platform” still only exists in my journals, Mel’s photoshop drafts, Jude’s business plans… I know it works.
- I just finished a 2 month position working with DukeEngage as the SC for the Arts/Education based program in Zhuhai, China. And the experience of doing so has strengthened/renewed my belief in the power of art, writing, reflection — combined with education — to create magic.
- Having just re-started my process of job-searching, I know that the possibility of doing work related to art, children/youth, education (perhaps even intersection of all three!) makes my breath quicken in excitement and anticipation.
So, here, I pause to make a note-to-self
(and to anyone reading, too, who finds themselves in a similar situation):
In the midst of these fears, I’m reminded how lucky, still, I am:I’m healthy, able, blessed with a working body and working mind… And a passion which I believe can become a career. While swimming in a ocean of fear and uncertainty, I also realize this ocean is also one of beauty and opportunity.
So, for those of us, fear away. Fear is a part of the journey. Hold steady and enjoy the storm - Bon Voyage.
P.s. A normal post script this time. This letter has been much more about my fears and uncertainties than letters past. Here’s why: so often we share our successes and accomplishments. It’s not often that we talk about failure or fear - not while it’s happening (though I’ve read/heard more than my fair share of “after success” stories of prior failures and fears). So as an aspiring writer who believes that the beauty behind the practice/experience of Art and Literature is that it allows us a peek into lives other-than-our-own… here’s my attempt to create a window into my life.