Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Life's Work: No Burning Desire

I've had two cups of coffee. Done three loads of laundry. Stripped the sheets off the bed. Folded one load of laundry. Scrubbed the toilet in my bath with bleach. Watched two episodes of West Wing. Eaten a bowl of shredded wheat while reading the New York Times Book Section from November 8th. Hand washed a sweater vest. Taken three photographs and deleted two. Watched the dog bark at the oil delivery of 94 gallons of oil @ $2.649 per.

My life is mundane. Dull. A waste of a good education. A waste of what is left of my life. Would there be anything I have done today that would be missed? By anyone?

You could say my husband but he is easily comforted by the dry cleaner, dog day care and a cleaning service. In other words, who cares?

A few years ago, I thought a few thousand dollars would give me the means and opportunity to return to Art School and finish my degree or at least make some ceramic bowls and learn how to paint in oils. I now have that "few thousand dollars" and I'm not that sure this is the path I want to trod. I still would like to throw a few bowls (for my soup and shredded wheat) and learn how to paint in oils but I don't want to go back to school bad enough to drive into Portland every day. I don't like driving.

I learned to drive too late in life and didn't do enough of it to lose the fear of traffic, changing lanes and getting lost. And my nighttime vision is very bad.

There is a very snooty liberal arts college right here in my little town. It has an art department. It also has hoops and more hoops to jump through to even enter a building, let alone use the pottery wheel. I don't think I am intellectual or needy enough to qualify.

I read a novel "Map of the World" I think, by a woman in mid life who applied to this college--wrote a long and detailed saga of her life (repeatedly) until they granted her a full scholarship into their halls. And education and a degree followed. I don't have her story.

I would just write about the bowls, oil paints and the lust in my heart for the intaglio printing press. The lust. Not the burning desire or need. I think they might listen if I had the burning desire. But I don't. Or the consuming need to create, paint, sew or make things. I think this means, that while I am good at making art, I am NOT an artist. I have tried to never use the title "artist" to describe myself. To thy own self be true.

I have mostly made my life's work doing not much of anything. And having very little to show for that life, spent that way. I cook. I clean (sort of). I wash and iron. I raised children. I read books. I watched television. I worked at menial public service jobs. I made friends and kept all of them for over 30 and nearly 40 years. I planted seeds and tended many gardens. I've made several dozen pieces of fabric art and less of painted paper. I carved an alphabet (crudely) out of rubber erasers. I built a Spooky House out of a cardboard box and a Gingerbread House out of a dollhouse and fake candy. I know how to save money but I'm not very good at making it earn more for me. I like ice cream and raspberry jelly donuts.

I had my horoscope done many years ago. The natal chart. My life's work (and some mental illness) was to be a mother. So, I think, it's one of my children who has "big work to do in life". The person reading my chart, when asked by me for what I am supposed to do in life (destiny), told me I had a "free pass" to do anything or nothing. It didn't matter. My life, after being a mother, didn't matter. I wasn't going to change or affect whatever happens in my lifetime. Isn't that sad? And pretty normal. I was listening to the tape recording a few years ago and it was surprising to hear the woman say that "if you ever were interested in making quilts, you wouldn't use a pattern, you would make it up as you went". At that point, I had never even thought about making a quilt. I did think about it 10 years later. Sans pattern. Of course.

Anyway, here I am this morning, sun shining, in my red robe, questioning my existence. My coffee has grown cold for the second time. The dog is outside but his internal clock is ticking and says "lunch" so I must go and feed him.


Terry Grant said...

You are an artist. Really, you are. And you are a writer. I love the things you do.

Annie said...

....and as Terry said you are an artist and writer and give many people pleasure by entering a post daily on your blog. You reassure us who question, "what is my life worth, why am I here"? We all wonder does anyone else feel as I do? then there is Joanne with her comforting blog, and we say, yes, I feel that way too.

: )

Hand Quilting Nana said...

This must be a result of the age we are at at this moment in life. I am pondering the same issues. What will people tell my great grandchildren about me when I am gone. Or will I be remembered at all. That's why I have journals with my thoughts so if anyone is interested when I am gone, they will at least know what I was thinking and maybe in some way what kind of person I was.

I think perhaps I quilt because I want something tangible left behind for people so that they will be forced to remember me even if it's only a passing thought when they are warmed by a quilt I have made.

I eagerly await your blog each day. One of two favorites I have.


dee said...

You are an artist-I've seen what you do and I feel just like Terry, I look forward to your writing. The reason is because your writing could often be coming directly from my thoughts. Please don't take this the wrong way and be mad at me but I wonder if we shouldn't stop wondering about who will remember us and just continue to work on this moment, this hour, this day...etc. That's what I'm trying and it doesn't always work but I'm doing less of the questioning what my life is worth. Do you think that some of it may be the Yankee work ethic? It is for me. Like you,I worked for many years-was overcome with guilt at the thought of not earning a salary. Somehow equating it with my worth in the world. I'm thinking of you while I paint my new sewing room-I'm certainly "earning" my pay this morning. Love yourself more-believe me, I know how hard that can be to do.