Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ramblings on art, ancestors and recognition

There was a new columnist in my local paper this morning. And he was good. Really good. I actually laughed right out loud. I didn’t want to like his column, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Now, you may wonder why I didn’t want to like his column. Only because I’ve been turned down twice now as a columnist for that newspaper. Apparently they don’t like my style. Or my subject matter. Or just me.

As I was reading today’s new columnist I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s best if I just give up my dream of ever becoming a paid writer. Because, here’s the thing -- for every genre that I aspire to write, there’s already someone else writing it. And often writing it better than I could.

I spent a little time today in Park City strolling along old Main Street. I stopped in at a handful of art galleries and oogled the art. Beautiful paintings, quirky sculptures, dazzling detail – some of it beyond words of description. I examined a few pieces up close. My mind whirled thinking about the time behind each brushstroke, each color. A part of me even wanted to be an artist, wanted to capture beauty to share with an appreciative audience.

Back at home, I picked raspberries. While wading through green prickly branches for perfectly ripe fruit, my mind wandered. I thought about the art I’d seen and wondered what I’d buy if money weren’t a consideration. Then I began thinking about the people who could afford to purchase art. Actually, I had to use my imagination, as I don’t actually know many people who own or collect fine art.

That little nugget of noodling led me to contemplate people I do know. Family. As the berries in my bucket began accumulating, I acknowledged my roots. Teachers. Farmers. Quilters. Homemakers. I come from what I like to call Pioneer Stock.

I thought about my grandmas, great and great-great, and the berries they must have picked, the garden produce they must have canned. They didn’t have the means to purchase fine art or the time to create it. Instead, they spent their time working to care for their families. The artifacts they left behind run along utilitarian lines: a worn and faded double wedding ring quilt, an old potato masher with a well-used wooden handle, a mason jar lifter with calcium deposits on the metal from years of removing canned produce from hard water.

And now, back to how all this relates to my dreams for recognition. Yipes. That is exactly the word that describes what I seem always to be looking for . . . RECOGNITION.

I guess I used to get it through good grades, through academic achievement. And that’s probably why writing a self-syndicated column from 1997 to 2000 helped to keep my emotional boat afloat. I was getting a little recognition in the form of reader feedback and small but concrete paychecks.

There is something in my personality that craves, maybe even needs recognition. Is that weird?

I’m left wondering if I’ll forever be part of an appreciative audience and never the performer. Are other performers driven to seek the limelight?

Switching gears now, stay with me.

Ways that I currently get recognition:
Being a witch at the Pumpkin Walk and cackling. (Bless the Burt kids. They never tire of hearing me cackle. )

Teaching Sunday school.

Hosting parties.

Hmmmm. I guess that’s about it. But are there other ways I can “perform” and get my recognition fix?

Yeah. I’m volunteering to help the student council at Loula Belle’s middle school. When I’m goofy with the kids and they respond, that feels good. And writing the skits they’ll do for “Character Counts” might fit the bill too. And maybe I could tell my hubby and kids that I have unfulfilled performance yearnings. Maybe they’d consent to being an appreciative audience. Hey, even just being an attentive audience would be fine. (Better than the eye rolls that I currently get.)

And what about the retirement home where my grandma lives? Maybe I could play the piano for them to sing along with. I probably can’t commit to doing it every week, but how about once a month? Or every-other month?

We'll see.


Julie B. said...

Have you read "A Lantern in Her Hand"? (My mind is blank as to the author.) I honestly sobbed and wrote a 3 page journal entry on how I so relate to that woman! I think any woman who has set her dreams or even inclinations aside to tend to the daily demands of mothering and life in general can relate.

For years I wanted to sing somewhere great and be "recognized" by people other than my family. I've even toyed with the idea of auditioning for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Although not the singular praise I sought, my closest family and friends think that the choir is awesome. Alas, I read their audition requirements and their time requirements if actually accepted, and it just wouldn't be feasible. I sadly gave up that dream just a month or two ago.

It's funny how God gives you small moments of supposed glory. A couple of weeks ago I was asked to sing in a quartet at a terribly sad funeral. I hate singing at funerals because I'm such a baby, but the men in the quartet actually are members of the Tabernacle Choir. Feeling flattered and excited to actually sing with talented singers, I accepted the invitation. Then lo and behold, on the program we were ALL introduced as members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! For a couple of hours I could enjoy the fantasy. I kept the program to show my husband, parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbors and any other poor soul who happened to get caught in the wake of my moment of glory. Pretty pathetic, I know. But still, it felt good. In fact, it still feels good!

I'm trying to "grow up" and not focus on being important and wonderful and everything I had hoped I one day would be. It's a battle, but I think that I'm getting a little more perspective everyday. "The Invisible Woman" was a helpful piece of work.

Christie said...

No wonder we're friends. Birds of a feather flock together. And, yes, I personally own the book "A Lantern in Her Hand" by Bess Streeter Aldrich. Sounds like I'm about due for a re-read.

Last of all, don't give up your dream of singing with the Mo-Tab Choir. Just keep it on the back burner. Who knows where you'll be in the future. (Don't you have to be younger than 55 years?)