WHAT DO I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP?
Fifty-five years ago I decided I wanted to be a physician, and spent the next 16 years pursuing that goal. Thirty-five years ago everything changed, and after five years of turmoil I knew I wanted to be an artist as much as I did a physician. Without reservation I followed the path I cleared for myself with commitment and enthusiasm.
So, at age 70, I was caught off guard when once more things began to change, and clouds of doubt and uncertainty rolled in, obscuring that once clearly defined path. It was the beginning of a transition that, four years later, is still in progress.
The question is not what does the future hold for me, but what do I want from the remaining years?
I am gradually developing a clearer sense of what I want for myself, and what I would like to accomplish. This recent journal entry describes still another change, this one related more to my attitude to my work and my age than anything else.
“2013 is the year that dispelled all the self-imposed age related restraints I had been laboring under in recent years. The key word here is “self-imposed”. My body has its own set of restraints that cannot be denied, but they have no place in this narrative.
I had foolishly convinced myself that my best work was behind me, and that there was no longer a place in my life for grand, sweeping aspirations and goals, and that my work would now be slow, deliberate, and a lot less ambitious. (Picture a tired old fart sitting in his studio ever so slowly working at an easel.) I was that close to putting myself out to pasture.
Then came the Paducah Portfolio, After working for months on large canvases in 2012 for a gallery show in which nothing sold, I reacted by focusing all my efforts on smaller drawings and paintings, and the Paducah Portfolio was conceived. With few exceptions, I devoted the entire year to the project, and in the process wiped out all of my nonsensical notions about age and work. It is impossible to overstate how significant this has been for me. I am facing 2014 with a head filled with ideas of things I want to do, which I will approach with the attitude that I will liver forever.
I have no recourse but to trust Rilke’s admonition that I will “…live into the answers”.