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.