I Heart Art

I made a little mermaid.

When I was working on my Masters degree in Adult Education, I had to take a class in the Psychology of aging and one of the things that stuck with me most was Erik Erikson’s observation that as humans age, they have an increasing need to create and nurture things that will outlast them. I’m definitely at that stage, and I recognize it not only in my concern for raising my children to be good people, but also in my pressing need to write for posterity and to create things of physical beauty.

A few months ago, I registered for an online fiction writing course through the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Then I forgot all about it and developed an obsession with printmaking, spending all my free time hacking away at linoleum blocks and reading up about different techniques. And I discovered that when I was doing this, I had no need for writing. I started reading books about printmaking and took a renewed interest in the Japanese prints that the P-Dawg’s been collecting. While at the Cleveland Museum of Art last weekend, I found myself studying the themes and composition of the paintings instead of just viewing them from a purely aesthetic standpoint, as I always used to. Now that the online fiction course has finally started, I’m up to my eyeballs in writing assignments and all I want to do is carve linoleum.

What is happening to me?

I’m guessing, “mid-life crisis.” I suddenly feel as though I have no time to waste in trying my hand at all the things that interest me, of which, it turns out, there are many. But with each passing year I fear more that I’m doomed to be a Jack of all trades and master of none. It’s possible that my interest in printmaking is just a phase like so many others before it, but it’s like I said to my mom the other day when we were looking at some photos of the Lithuanian countryside, “I cannot help now but to see the world though the eyes of an artist.”

And my mom was like, “That’s great, but don’t quit your day job.” By which I can only assume she meant sporadic, not-for-profit blogging.

In the age of social media, I’ve noticed that more and more, with each online profile we fill out, we’re required to define ourselves succinctly. I’ve narrowed most of my bios down to “writer,” “wife,” and “mother,” but I still don’t have a published body of work to show for that first moniker. (I did complete my memoir about growing up as the daughter of immigrants stuck between two cultures. I just don’t know if it ever will – or even should be – read by a wide audience.)

And now I’m left wondering if there’s ever a definitive point when a person’s authentic self emerges, or if it’s okay to bluster around for a lifetime searching for it.

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10 thoughts on “I Heart Art

  1. Kat

    I get this. I feel much the same way. A jack of all trades, master of none. I’m fine with it. I think I like to do many different things as a hobby and then once I get proficient at them I’m done. I get bored easily I think. ;)

  2. brother j

    Rima, I would like to read it, and i’m sure none of us would mind if you shared it with others.

  3. Becca

    And I forgot to say, I’m starting to appreciate doing things that make me happy, but that once seemed frivolous–like picking the piano back up and reading for pleasure–instead of feeling guilty about every minute not working. So much more balanced and fun!

  4. Marta

    I have the same fear myself of being a jack of all trades and a master of none. There is so much that interests me, so much that I’m passionate about. But there is no one thing that I could devote everything to and feel satisfied.

    Your words (and your printmaking) are beautiful. Don’t give up either.

  5. Daiva

    I could so relate to this, Rima. If I could quit my day job, I’d be out there making collages, knitting, scrapbooking, and taking a class in pottery. Writing fulfills me, but my arts and crafts make me feel content on a completely different level.
    I’d be happy to read your memoir.

  6. Dawn

    I know exactly how you feel. I think, for me, at least, this all has to do with our children getting older and more independent. I find myself appreciating more and more the opportunity to use my time in a way that stretches my brain – both the left and right sides. Writing and music provide a creative outlet while pushing myself to understand new technology and financial statements helps feed my need for new knowledge. Keep doing what you’re doing – I think you will find your efforts well worth the time spent!

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