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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Unicorn in the Room

So, I've recently had to come to terms with the fact that I don't 'fit in'.  Although it's something I've dealt with all my life, my mid-life crisis is changing my attitude about it... and in a good way! No longer am I trying to fit in, but instead I am embracing who I am. It really hit me the other day during a business meeting. As I was sitting with people who were talking about driving to kid's baseball games, watching sports and sending kids to college, I realized that I was the odd man, I mean woman, out. I do my best to understand their perspective and share conversation, but for the most part, my life & my attitudes are very very different from theirs.

For instance, I believe in unicorns... and fairies and angels. Basically I believe in almost anything that sounds absolutely impossible. This sounds a little bit like my 'second childhood' has pushed me over the edge of sanity, right? But I'm as sane as the next person. I just choose to believe that magic is real. Why? Because it's a beautiful idea, isn't it? It's beautiful to think that something miraculous exists beyond us. It's also a great source of inspiration.

Let me tell you how I got here. As an artist, I've always been blessed with a wild imagination. I was an only child and from the time I was a little girl I daydreamed about fantastical characters and alternate universes. I particularly believed in wizards and unicorns, gnomes & fairies, elves & dragons. Sounds like the makings for the ultimate fantasy geek, right? Well, I don't actually attend Comicon, but I do think it would be fun.

Here's the thing. I didn't live in a house where my parents read me bedtime stories. In fact, it was just my mom & I unless I was staying with my grandparents, and none of them read to me. In fact, I can't remember one instance of anyone reading to me. I didn't have any early reader books. The first memory I have of someone reading to me was my second grade teacher, and he was really good at it. It's probably the reason why I love listening to audiobooks now. It's my indulgence. Some women like pedicures... I like a great audiobook read by someone who is really good at it.

So, I have to wonder where these imagined characters came from. If I didn't have any knowledge of fairy tales, how could I just know about fairies? I don't know the answer to that. But I do vividly remember moments where I knew it was true. For instance, I used to play at my grandparent's hobby farm. There was a shallow ditch running across the pasture and I loved to sit in the ditch and watch what passed by. There were dragonflies, snails & earthworms, crickets and birds, a plethora of tiny creatures that most people didn't notice at all. I would build boats for the snails out of milk weed pods complete with leafy sails and set them on their course. Looking back, I sure hope they made it safely to wherever I sent them. But I had a clear picture in my head of all of them communicating with each other, assisted by tiny fairies when they got in trouble and off to lands where they could see dragons and ride unicorns.

That imagination is alive and well today. Thank goodness. It's always been there, but it sort of woke back up when I started reading the Harry Potter stories a few years ago. What a magical and wondrous book! A friend recently said that J.K. Rowling was divinely inspired. She suggested that there was real magic happening in the writing of that story. She's a friend who believes as well, thank goodness for her. And I agree.

Artists and Art Historians have talked for centuries about divine inspiration. People accept the term without really thinking about it. But I'm here to tell you, it's absolutely true. I've felt it. There are moments in my studio, whether I am drawing or throwing pots, that I forget myself... even forget what I am doing and just work. It's not like I'm possessed or anything dark like that. It's a sort of stepping outside of myself. It's like I can understand the clay, or the pencil. Like the medium just works itself. I can tell when it's not happening and during those times it almost always pays to get out of the studio. In the inspired moments, the magical moments, the ideas create themselves. The forms create themselves. I am just tool in this. But I am always fascinated by it. And I always thank the fairies when the project is complete, because I truly believe they were in the room.

So there you go. I believe in fairies & other crazy things. So be it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to replace my DVD player so I can watch Lord of the Rings tonight. ;)


  1. Don't ever lose your imagination, it's free and limitless.