Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sharing What You Love To Do

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

The only thing stopping us from achieving our dreams is the limits that we place upon ourselves. 

I recently spoke at Nelson High School, the same high school that I graduated from in 1993. My friend Christina asked me to speak for one of her applied English classes. She wanted me to talk about my adventures in Alaska as well as about being a working artist. I was thrilled to speak about something that is so special to me. I did not even bring notes as I just knew that the talk would take shape within the moment.

I took some paintings with me as well as photos of my trip to Alaska this past summer. Christina had the kids think of some questions for me before the talk, which worked well because they were rather shy about asking questions when I was there.

I spoke for twenty minutes but it felt like five. The time flew by and I think that I spoke too quickly but the feeling of sharing with others a little bit about what I do and perhaps inspiring them to think of a creative vocation for their future was amazing! They were curious about how I worked, how traveling has affected my art, how much my paintings sell for and the inspiration for the paintings themselves. I emphasized how I felt that no matter what they did with their lives, that whatever they wanted to do was within their reach. It was great to see that a couple of the kids there wanted to pursue careers as artists. I did not glorify it and said that it really has its difficult times, but that is the case with anything I suppose.

I was thrilled to learn that the principal at Nelson heard about my talk and wished that more kids would have been able to attend the talk. I offered to return with a longer talk, more photos and more paintings if they wished. I really love speaking about working as an artist and sharing some of what I do with those pondering a similarly creative choice of vocation. Perhaps other opportunities will arise to do this.

If even one member of the class chooses a path that they previously had second guessed, I will be overjoyed. We are our own strongest critics, and the power of self-sabotage through what-if thinking and negative self-talk can be overwhelming; Fear can control us and often does. However, if we accept that uncertainty and embrace that anxiety we can overcome it. To choose the path less trodden is surely the most gratifying. I would not want to do anything else with this "one wild and precious life" as Mary Oliver so beautifully calls it.

"I simply do not distinguish between work and play."
~Mary Oliver

The Scottish Highlands from a trip there in a few years ago.

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