Friday, October 19, 2012

Naked. Whew.

This song goes down easy and the cheer will linger all day

I feel more like reading than writing at the moment, but I wanted to record a realization that I had today. It's about ME and MY happiness, so you will probably not be interested in it, which is totally normal and human of you.

I'm happy (if anyone can be called happy before they're dead) but like a human, I spend a lot of time thinking about what would make me happier. One of my students asked me what I used to want to be when I grew up, and I answered that as a child, I wanted to be a Writer, an Artist, a Mother, a Teacher, a Chef, a Cowgirl, a Black Belt in Karate, a Musician of some sort, and a Gymnast.

Except for motherhood, I've experimented with all of those selves and I suppose that I incorporate them all in my life to some extent. Usually I'm not very much of a Cowgirl. But I am officially a Teacher; I really enjoy cooking tasty food for my husband; I write letters and blog posts; I do mother people; I paint and draw almost daily; I sing every day and play our piano when I can bear its awful tuning; I am a Green Belt in tae kwon do; and I do cartwheels whenever I have room and I'm not wearing a dress. So most of those selves are still around. I'm always the Reader, although I don't think that was a career goal.

For some reason, though, today it struck me that although I like doing all of those things, I usually have to talk myself into making efforts towards them, and I am easily distracted from doing most of those things. I fall out of those selves.

Except for the Artist. Making Stuff is the one thing that I can do for hours at a time without eating or drinking or talking to my husband or getting on Facebook or even going to the bathroom. I don't have to talk myself into doing it, but I do have to talk myself into putting down the pencil or glue or paintbrush and doing other stuff.

I cannot remember a time when this was not true. My Reader self sort of muscled out my Artist self at some point, culminating in the choice to study philosophy, literature and language rather than art in college, but the Artist has always been there. I think the Artist has to be older and deeper; image, intuition and desire to order my environment all came before speech and the explicit recognition of abstract ideas. I think reason was born in the Artist, and the Reader forgets this.

Origins are important. They are usually hard to explain and painful to share; one must return to them privately. Immersing myself in some sort of manipulation of sensible materials (that's my most general definition of art) feels like taking off my clothes and stepping into a warm bath; a place where I don't need to think about whether I'm wearing the right clothes, and neither am I ashamed of my nakedness.

I don't feel the need to talk to other people about the Artist in order to confirm that I'm doing the right thing. This is important for me, because I spend a lot of energy worrying about duty and propriety. I have to "check-in" with other people fairly often. (Oldest daughter! Gemini with Virgo Rising and Leo Moon! ENFJ! Ack!!) The worst thing about this is that I feel sort of ashamed of being an extrovert; it seems weak to need clothes, customs, mirrors and masks. In fact, this shame gets rather recursive because I even feel ashamed of being ashamed of being an extrovert. Ugh. Thanks a lot, philosophy.

I used to worry that I wasn't a "deep" person. Now I think I realize that I was tapping about for depths in the wrong places. So I felt stronger today when I realized that I do have a private, naked self, which I don't need to share with anyone but God. Of course I am blogging about the Artist and I blurted some of these thoughts out to my husband as soon as they occurred to me. Oh well. The important thing is that the Artist does not seek justification. I still want to be all of those other selves and more as I grow up, and I am growing in and out of those selves. But in recognizing the Artist recently, I've begun to weave a strong, soft, quiet little dwelling for her. She could have used one of these in college.

Does that make sense to anybody else? It doesn't have to, finally.


  1. when I first read this, I wanted to comment and say, "Yes, it makes sense to me!" But then I wondered whether "sense" was what it was supposed to make, or whether the whole point was that you didn't need a response, or maybe I should tell you in person..... But I keep thinking about it! So:
    Yes, it makes sense to me!!
    and it sounds super.

    1. Good. It doesn't have to make sense, but any sense it makes is bonus. Thanks for reaching out. :)