Last week, I was moved to write about “staying on the bus.” When I look at the many years I have skittered from one artistic endeavor to another, I wonder where my pursuits might have landed me if I had stuck with one area of exploration.
I thought of it not only in artistic terms, but in relation to my whole life. What if I had just focused on being the best mother I could be, rather than also attempting to be a good student, an artist, a cook, a gardener, an employee…
It all seemed reasonable when I wrote it, and I still think the idea has merit. However, there are other ways to look at it. Clearly there are other points of view. Perhaps I wasn’t as clear in explaining my meaning as I should have been. Some thoughts expressed by Elizabeth Gilbert in her new book, Big Magic, might clarify what I was trying to say:
My favorite meditation teacher, Pema Chodron, once said that the biggest problem she sees with people’s meditation practice is that they quit just when things are starting to get interesting. Which is to say, they quit as soon as things aren’t easy anymore, as soon as it gets painful, or boring, or agitating. They quit as soon as they see something in their minds that scares them or hurts them. So they miss the good part, the wild part, the transformative part – the part when you push past the difficulty and enter into some raw new unexplored universe within yourself.
And maybe it’s like that with every important aspect of your life. Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon. As my friend Pastor Rob Bell warns: “Don’t rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you.”
Don’t let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding.
Because that moment?
That’s the moment when interesting begins.
Now, with that bit of clarification, let me say that I do not regret one moment of my artistic exploration. I certainly don’t think any of us should focus so narrowly on an endeavor that we don’t let other inspiration come calling. What if I’d never gotten my hands in clay, or experienced the joy of pulling a print? I can’t imagine! But, honestly, sometimes it’s just too easy to move from one thing to another, and sometimes I use it to avoid the hard stuff.
As for the other aspects of my life, well…I can only imagine how very screwed up my daughters would have been, if they had been my sole focus in life. I was neurotic enough about parenting as it was, even with other distractions!
I want to be an explorer. I just don’t want to be running around so intent on the pursuit of everything, that I never actually fully experience anything that I’ve found.