We all need a hero.
And we can all BE a hero.
We do need another hero. Lots of ’em.
I’m often asked how I got started making my art, and I’ll share it here.
I was the typical “class artist” throughout grade school, drawing at every opportunity. (Mostly horses, come to think of it.) Then drawing for other kids (“Draw a dog for me!” “Can you draw a mouse?”) Then cartoons for the school newspaper (and writing a funny column, come to think of it).
I couldn’t wait to go to college, so I could learn to be an artist. (Our school’s art programs constantly fell victim to budget cuts, so I had very little access to making “real” art.) That didn’t happen, for a lot of reasons, none of them very good in hindsight.
And so I left my art as a young person. Mostly because I believed so many MYTHS ABOUT ARTISTS.
I backed away from it later because when I stayed home with my children, it was so very very hard to make time for anything beyond trying to be a good wife and a good mother. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever introduced yourself as “(your child’s name here)’s mom”. I still introduce myself to some people as “Doug’s mom” and “Robin’s mom”.)
There was barely time to knit a hat or finish a project before I had to clear the table for lunch, or dinner, let alone take on any serious or involved ventures.
I actually got to the point where I decided to simply focus on good wife/good mom, and wait til there was more time/money/opportunity to do differently.
I thought it was the right thing to do. There was some relief in “letting go” of that dream.
But something in me was sad, too. I pushed it down and tried to forget about it.
Shortly after that, as I watched my darlin’ three-year-old daughter at play, I found myself daydreaming about her…
What would her life be like? It seemed to spread before us like a tiny brook, growing into a mighty river.
What kind of person would she be? I hoped she’d be the same person she was now: Quiet but deep-thinking; shy but fierce in her beliefs; talented in so many ways; loving yet independent; quirky, different, her own person, comfortable in her own skin.
What kind of work would she do? There were so many possibilities.
Who would she love? Would she marry, too? I hoped she’d find someone who would respect her strengths and encourage her dreams. I hoped she’d find a loving partner who would let her shine, who would let her simply be herself.
And then an epiphany whacked me right over the head. Three big questions tumbled into my brain. In big glowing capital letters.
1) Did my mother want that for me when I was young? (I still don’t know the answer to that one. I was the oldest of seven, there may not have been time to spend daydreaming!)
2) How could I want that for my daughter, and not want that for myself?
3) How will my daughter know what that looks like–to be all she can be–if I didn’t model that for her?
I knew I had to be a hero for my daughter. And for me.
I knew I had to be authentic for my daughter. And for me.
That was the day I knew I had to be an artist. Or die.
That was the day I knew it didn’t even matter if I would be a good artist. I just had to do it.
It’s a perfect inspirational story for parents. These are powerful questions for breaking through the barriers we erect between ourselves and our dreams. It’s amazing to see the look of shocked enlightenment on the face of something who “gets it”:
“What am I teaching my kid??”
Are you actually teaching them to NOT live their dream? (Because you’re not?)
Are you showing them they shouldn’t try if they think they might fail? (Beause you’re afraid to?)
Are you telling them that someone else’s needs always outweigh their own? (Because that’s what you always do?)
Ow. Ow. OW!!
If you don’t have kids of your own, maybe this would be helpful:
“Someone–somewhere–is looking to you to be a hero.”
Maybe someone we care about deeply. Maybe not.
Sometimes it’s easier to be brave for someone else we care about, braver than we would normally choose for ourselves. Hopefully, as we grow older/wiser/more evolved, we choose to follow our power because that’s the right thing to do. (See the Martha Graham quote here.
But til then, altruism can be a force for good that’s also good for us.
Be someone’s hero. Be your own hero.