I wrote my last post in this series on October 11, 2015 and have been thinking about the topic again as the end of my 65th year approaches. I turn 65 on September 17th. The first thing I’ll say is that true change comes slowly. On October 4 for my third post, I ended with this:
I have exactly the career one should have if one does everything her own way. I pretty much make the art I want at the pace I want and put it out into the world in the same way. I have a husband who believes in me and wants me to be able to do exactly that. I have grown children who have said the nicest things about how my art has enriched their lives. In the past two years, I have been contacted out of the blue by two institutions who wanted to purchase a Spirit Book for their collection, a design magazine from Taiwan that wanted to feature my work, and two institutions who wanted to show my work. How can I feel anything but gratitude? Well of course I can, and have, but it is foolish. With that recognition, that hard little knot has dissolved. I go forward into this 65th year with a new resolve to make the most out of these gifts and be thankful for them.
Turns out I was wrong. That hard little knot had not dissolved. It was still there. I realized it when friends retired and I felt happy for them and bad for me. They were leaving positions with a sense of accomplishment and an optimistic view toward what came next with time to explore their own interests. I felt like I was still a child jumping up and down waving my arms and shouting, “Look at me! Pay attention to me! ” I was back to being an ungrateful bitch (65th year-Part 3) and a petulant child—not in public and not all the time but often enough. I knew it was counterproductive but I couldn’t seem to stop complaining about how my work didn’t sell (65th Year-Part 4) and on and on.
It seems I may have reached the turning point I was looking for. It came after one of my feeling-sorry-for-myself sessions with my husband. It wasn’t anything he said. It was the look of hurt on his face. 40 years of trying to help me do the work I want and I'm not happy. That look may have been there before but this time I saw it. The next morning I woke up and that little knot was gone. This time it feels final. I think I finally understand that isn’t all about me.
My life is mine but it is not a solo effort. I am what I am and have been able to do what I do because of the support first of my parents, then my husband, and now my children, not to mention friends both far and near. If I don’t have the openness and strength to be generous with myself, I am hurting them as well.
I feel like I am really done—done with chasing after acceptance in places that don’t welcome me, done with not taking the time to savor the good things that come my way, done with not appreciating all the goodness and good fortune that is in my life. I may actually be growing up. We shall see.
Next 65th Year post—the end of workshops, the beginning of videos.