Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Lesson for Emily

Pay Attention.


There is beauty in the details.

The importance of things can be found in the smallest components, not necessarily in all of the wild, spinning cogs or the plastic confection they produce.

If you sleep through the sojourn, then you miss the meaning of it.

I am searching for myself in places I have never thought to look before.

Not in a dangerous teenageresque, "Could I be hiding out in the bottom of cheap beer cans or in the back pockets of angry poets?"

And not the ambivalent "Are you there, God, it's me, Emily," sort of search, either.

I am romancing the artist in me.

I saw that. Rolling your eyes at me... I know. I rolled my eyes too, as soon as I wrote that last sentence, a conditioned response. The Editor in my head is rolling on the floor, gagging. You are becoming a crunchy embarrassment to your father's ideals.

But part of this expedition I am on, is removing some of that Editor's power. So, roll on, dear Editor. Roll on.

I have always been a writer. I have always had this constant tickle in the back of my throat that I have soothed with my pen (or keyboard as it were.) I don't have any training or credentials or instruction or merit...only words linked together. Not necessarily words of any consequence, only a means of scratching a persistent itch.

Lately, however, I am exploring the idea that perhaps that itch is more than an annoying, if treatable, chronic affliction. Perhaps it is the symptom of a neglected facet of my identity.

I am the middle of three children, bookeneded by talent and beauty that has stolen my breath since childhood.

My brother, who is 5 years younger than me, has displayed undeniable talent as an artist since he was a toddler, able to scratch the scenes in his mind onto paper with a depth that confounded the adults around him. He is a gifted musician (that I'm sure many of you have witnessed if you have ever watched a show that rhymes with "Blaze Shanatomy" Check out more of his music here and here.) And his heart is genuine and exposed and inspires one to be authentic and selfless. I am privileged to have grown up along side of him in the shadow of his ability.

My older sister is the kind of beautiful that makes your chest ache. Everything she touches becomes an extension of her beauty, much the way the canvases she paints benefit from the touch of her brush. Her artistry manifests itself in many ways, not the least of which is the elegant way she carries herself through the dusty trenches of everyday life, lending a polish to the drab realities that threaten to consume us. Her flair is the sincerest compliment to artists in that it is impossible to spend time in the glow of it and not be inspired to take up a pen or brush or instrument of your own. She is a rare talent...a rare blessing.

And I am sandwiched happily in the middle, thoroughly nourished by their artistic bent. Knowing that I could never compete with their creativity, (and honestly, not wanting to compete,) I started cultivating unrelated qualities. I felicitously described myself as diligent, academic, pragmatic, with illusions of organization.

But the tickle, the suggestion that I may have my own artistic contribution to make, has persisted. And, so I sit here, looking sideways at the tender, emerging shoot that could so comfortably fit the definition of a "mid life crisis." **I will be 30 very soon**

Am I reinventing myself so as to avoid making eye contact with the aging lady in the mirror whose hands I no longer recognize, whose childhood aspirations are long expired and cracked beneath the layers of inattention?

Or am I foolishly giving chase to a discipline that has always been just beyond my grasp?

Or is there a song inside of me that is ready to be sung; a story that is waiting to be told; a snapshot that is waiting for a moment in the sun?

I think the answer is in the details. Or at least I hope it's there.


Hannah said...

I love the photo - it expresses what you're feeling so beautifully.

I too was always the practical one in a family of artistically-gifted siblings. My one-year anniversary (blogiversary?) is coming up very soon and it's really made me think about what the blogging has meant to me - and where I'm going to go with it next.

Anonymous said...

Did you know the name Emily means "industrious"? I always thought that was the perfect name for me, like I wasn't talented but I was reliable and hard-working.

Fascinating to read you felt the same way.


sex scenes at starbucks said...

Aging? Now I AM rolling my eyes.

I've made art in various forms my entire life, and it wasn't until my late thirties (aided by Weight Watchers and an enormous Jeep, as you know) that I gained the confidence to do it MY way.

This is a normal thing, a normal process, one that will lead you to ever greater things.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

by the way, I'd like you to start reading this lady, Bernita. Your sensibilities remind me of her, or vice versa.


painted maypole said...

oh yes, yes, yes. she is there. keep romancing her.

and to answer your question, yes, I have done the artist's way. Several times, in fact. i find something new each time, and while some of it works for me and some of it doesn't, it always opens me up and gets the juices flowing. I just may need to do it again, now that I am reading this. I am feeling all sorts of tickles in my life right now.

flutter said...

This was totally lush and fascinating.

sethy said...

cripes. I'm stoked to see what is to come. and hopefully that's not pressure you don't need. I hope you understand what an inspiration to me you are. I doubt there's any way you could, but you are. I'm sorry this is via the internet and not in person or at least over the phone. My brain is compelled by your heart.

Beck said...

Beautiful photo - it perfectly fit this post.
I thought turning 30 was going to be awful, but I LOVE being in my 30s. It's been wonderful.

Lori said...

You are going to be THIRTY very soon! You are far too wise to still be lounging around in your 20's. I think you will find your 30's suit your sensibilities much better. :)

Sing away!!

NotSoSage said...

Yes, yes, yes!

Having turned 30 just under 6 months ago, I have found that while I nurtured the academic, scientific side of my personality for so long, the creative side is finally sidling up to it and saying, "Uh, yeah, I think it's my turn."

Follow her...I'm sure that you'll find, at least, that you have fun and find fulfillment answering that question. Otherwise, you'll never know...

Good luck!

slouching mom said...

Oh, baby. Yes, baby. You're only just beginning.


I am searching for myself in places I have never thought to look before.

...resonated with me.

And your descriptions of your siblings were so evocative and lovely.

Christine said...

oh my girl--you are an great writer. you have that talent already. i see it. we all do.

i loved this post.

loved it.

Running on empty

Furrow said...

I agree with Lori. The thirties are better than the twenties. You'll roll your eyes at yourself more, but you'll eventually stop caring whether other people do it. I'm not there yet (not caring, I mean; I am past 30), but it's something I'm working on.

And you are talented. You obviously have many gifts. Have you read The Artist's Way? Your banishment of The Editor reminded me of one of the exercises in there.