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Role Models?

The art studio where I work, as opposed to the hellhole store where I work, is the kind of warm, homey environment where people hang around even when not working.  After working a few hours today, I lurked around to have dinner and offer “advice” and “insight” on college to the portfolio prep class, along with another former student who stopped in just to visit!  According to my boss, I constitute a wise voice on the matter, which got me wondering what I really learned about life from college…

“There is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end.”  Jackson Pollock said that about his splatter paintings, and it extrapolates nicely to, well, Life.  It seems like something our elders say and we roll our eyes at, but tonight both I and my 19-year-old cohort offered the same adage to the teens.  Keep in mind: I hadn’t been back to this place since graduating high school and going away to Boston.  One day, reading Patch, Marlene liked an article and glanced at the author to find it was me; she emailed me, we reunited, and now I’m working there and doing my own art again.  Things come full circle.  Nothing is what you expect it to be.

Which brings me to my next nugget of wisdom:Nothing is what you expect it to be.  Very few people take a straight path through life.  I did art and drama in high school.  In college, I studied art history and religious studies and wrote for a college TV show.  For my semester abroad, I went on an archaeological dig.  After graduation, I wound up having to take a retail job while freelancing.  When my freelancing job fell through, I wound up back teaching art.  None of it is what I might have expected; all of it is a part of me and who I will become.

Take advantage of absolutely everything.  Especially in college, but this applies to everything.  Your professors (masters in their field), classes (in subjects you will never have an opportunity to study again), semesters abroad (life experience that cannot be replaced and you will never forget), internships (invaluable and covetous work opportunities!), the people you meet, the clubs on campus, absolutely everything.  I could never afford to spend a summer in Spain now, I would probably never take a sailing class on my own, and where am I ever going to find someone to teach me about the great Hindu epics?  Enjoy it all while you can.

Doing what you love will always pay (sometimes it will even $pay$).  Getting back into art has not only helped me out in this job, but helped me anchor my sense of self in these often helpless and hopeless times.  Have you ever noticed that the more you do, the more you seem to do?  Bear with me.  If you wake up early, go to work, run errands, and work on a project, you’re much more likely to ride that efficient wave and do some cleaning while you’re at it.  Conversely, when you have the entire day off you somehow seem to accomplish utterly nothing.  Odd…

I may be no role model you’d like to imagine, but I represent one of the countless victims of our generation: dealt a bum hand, we’re doing what we can and trying to figure out what makes us happy.  Our lives aren’t what we pictured, but we’re recalibrating our expectations, wants, and needs, for worse and for better.


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