A New Chapter in the Continuing Odyssey

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Every child is born an artist. The trick is remaining one as an adult.

Pablo Picasso

Still warmed by the rich feelings of Christmas and New Year’s Day, I just picked up from the bookstore a copy of Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond.  Over the yearsI have returned several times to her seminal work The Artist’s Way, and have appreciated the insights and exercises suggested in the reading, though I don’t really believe I’ve ever been “blocked” as an artist. If I am not producing works of art, I am either on the road, in the company of others, or obsessed with reading and writing. I never feel far away from the enterprise of art, even if visual images are not flowing out of my pencil or brush.

I purchased this book because it targets retirees. I have been semi-retired since June 2017, but went straight into the university classroom, so I still had a place to go either two or three times weekly, and so never really felt fully “retired”. That is over for now. All my spring classes are online, so I find myself in a different environment, and thought that this book would provide some structure to my artistic inclinations during the “wide open” days and weeks to come.

I also chose this book because its creative exercises include writing a memoir, something I haven’t yet done, but have been interested in pursuing for a number of years. With this being the commencement of a new year, I believe the timing is ripe for exploring a memoir. And since the beginning of my memoir will expore the importance of drawing in my life (my earliest memories include pencil and paper and my attempt to respond to my environment in pictures), I made a resolution for this new year to concentrate more on drawing, and attempt to hone my skills in that area.

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This book I purchased during the Christmas season of 2014, and I enjoyed the first 100 pages or so, but somehow it got pushed aside from new books (I’ve been such an addict when it comes to purchasing and stockpiling books) and I pulled it from my shelf just before Christmas arrived this time.

As stated before, I am ready to return to some serious winter tree drawing. Problem is, the temperatures here have remained in the 20’s and I don’t have the initiative to bundle up like an Eskimo and go out into the freezing wind to draw (actually, I don’t want to get sick again). So . . . in good time.

My second reading of Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf has been deeply rewarding. I love the way this man wrote. A passage that captured my attention last night as I read follows:

“You have a picture of life within you, a faith, a challenge, and you were ready for deeds and sufferings and sacrifices, and then you became aware by degrees that the world asked no deeds and no sacrifices of you whatever, and that life is no poem of heroism with heroic parts to play and so on, but a comfortable room where people are quite content with eating and drinking, coffee and knitting, cards and wireless. And whoever wants more and has got it in him–the heroic and the beautiful, and the reverence for the great poets or for the saints–is a fool and a Don Quixote.”

I feel the blush rising when I read texts such as this, for most of my life I certainly carried that inflated sense of self-importance. One of many reasons that existential thought has appealed to me throughout my years of teaching is because of the central tenet that we as individuals are certainly adrift in this boundaryless cosmos, and whether or not we wish to admit it, we are not the hub of society, but only a grain of sand in human history. No doubt many never outgrow this sentiment of being at center stage. As I write these words this morning, there is probably a 72-year-old child punching out a Twitter text, believing he is Master of the Universe, and that all souls are obsessed with what he thinks.

My blog is still what it was when I began it–little more than an online journal. Writing is therapeutic for me, and there are some who still tell me that I have a good word for them when they read me. That is my reward, knowing I can do something good for someone else as I figure out this life’s odyssey.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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