This will at least weed out the big Harry Chapin fans among you.
Life takes us where we allow it, with the choices we make along the way. Sometimes we coast on the stream and allow others to make the choices, often we make choices as a compromise or jointly, but sometimes we make the big choices that singularly affect the destination. I can look back and see those points in life, when time split because of the choice I made, the path I took, and events unfurled as a result of my choice. I take full responsibility.
My other best friend in high school and I had our futures all mapped. Mine was in the arts, hers in journalism. I was headed to Pittsburgh to college, she to Akron, and on to our careers. Then life took Pittsburgh out of my hands at that time and I chose not to attend another college, I bummed a summer, lingered in love, and chose to go instead into cosmetology as a fluke, where it turned out, I had a great deal of talent.
All I wanted to do was write stories, draw comics and do theatre, but (sigh) I needed a trade.
So then life, life, life, life, yada yada yada, Pittsburgh eventually, but then back to Ohio, never to escape again. I got the arts degree but came back to one of the worst job markets for commercial artists. Went back to doing hair, eventually landed a steady reliable soul-numbing graphic design donkey job where I learned a lot. Did a bunch of local theatre for a non-profit and learned a lot. Lost the donkey job, quit theatre, freelanced and enjoyed my babies. Eventually landed a second steady reliable soul-numbing graphic design donkey job.
So a few years back I reconnected with my other best friend from high school. She was an award winning journalist for a major news network. I was … nothing I dreamed I’d be.
So I started dreaming again. A door opened to do some theatre and I LEAPED through it. I met some new artists and I took a chance and wormed my way into the community. I’ve painted some paintings, opened a gallery/studio, put on some plays. And now I’m ready to start writing stories, drawing funny pictures and doing theatre again.
I coasted a lot of years making the best of compromises, making the choice to not make a choice and living with the consequences. That’s what fear will do to you. And what did that profit me? A quiet life of desperation that wasn’t worthy of my children.
So spitting in fear’s eye, having the courage to take a chance and let myself dream, I find myself back on the path I chose to abandon so many years ago. Wow. That’s breath-taking. Exhilarating. Scary as hell but joy-ride scary, not terrifying.
There were too many years I coasted and failed to responsibly better myself as an artist, and I do regret that time, those opportunities, but I can’t change that. I can only learn and fail forward, and my life is the sum of where I’ve been and what I’ve done, when it was more important to gain approval than to be true to myself. You may not understand or approve, the choices I make may in some secret place threaten or challenge your own, that’s your shit to deal with, so I am also prepared to lose you if that’s necessary. There is no growth without pain.
But getting my life back on track, in align with the dream, hands and heart full of passion, are all good with the universe and the Maker, the great artist in whose palm I reside. I am a prodigal, I am back home, I have come full circle, bursting with joy.