If you speak to artists who are unable to contain their aspirations, whether their creative endeavor speaks through the brush, the pen, the harp or the bread pan, they will tell you, “I cannot NOT do this.” It’s as if they would wither away into the ethers if they did not paint, write, perform in an orchestra or make award winning ciabatta. It is as if life would be torture if lived any other way.
When I graduated from high school in 1984, I placed myself into this category. Writing was going to be my life - with publication as icing on the cake. Although I wouldn’t say “I’ve arrived,” I’m tapping the edges of my youthful ambitions. However, I almost lost my way.
Besides the everyday life hurdles, it was that I believed the adults in my life who told me how unwise it was to follow such “foolishness” that diverted me from the path of authorship.
I was reminded of my youthful ideal and how I narrowly escaped the grips of adopted fears on Monday evening at the Artist Meet and Greet hosted by the Raymond Arts Alliance and library. I got hear artists Holden Willard, a 2017 Windham High graduate and his father Don, speak about their lives as artists. Willard sees art as his life’s career and intends to not let anything get in the way of his creative ventures. Although they admit to having some fear around their son’s financially secure future, his parents support him in his decision.
As a society, we tend to believe that it is the elders who hold and impart wisdom to the less experienced among us. Although it is true that we older adults have lived a long life and do have valid bits of knowledge and experiences to share, we must be careful to not let our hardened viewpoints and baggage of failed expectation and disappointments spill over, preventing the youth to live their dreams fully.
Yes, life is life and it will be painful for them at times. But that’s okay. We survived. They will too. No matter our own fears and setbacks, it is not up to us as adults to cage the spirit of youth. In fact, they offer the reminder and wisdom to continue moving forward with our own lives and passions – whatever they may be.
In the online article “Generation Us: Heeding the Wisdom of Youth”, written by David McNair (dailyprogress.com) he has this to say about the subject:
“Children… see themselves as the heroes of their own lives, not the victims of time and circumstance, and they approach things with fearlessness. And when they get hurt, or things don’t go their way, they cry and yell and stomp their feet — but they move on.
Too often, as adults and older people, we settle for ways of being that aren’t necessarily that joyful, rewarding or even healthy. Set in our ways, perhaps, and veterans of a struggle the young can’t even begin to imagine, we can get hardened and wary. That’s where the wisdom of youth comes in.”
Life is too complicated to put everything neatly in compartments – we all must find our own ways to maneuver around in the world. But if we can, no matter our age, let’s keep showing up and moving on despite the difficulties and the fears we come up against. And, if you are feeling like you might be losing your way, listen to the wisdom of the young artist in your life – to remind you the vision you once had about a life lived fully.
Will it be worth it in the end? Who knows? But I, for one, would rather regret the things I did than that things I didn’t do. I was foolish in my youth – why change now.