Surrealism is the new Real

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Half a Lifetime

"You got what everyone gets. You got a lifetime."
                             - Death, from Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

Part 1: Midlife Crises

The topic of age, coming into one's own, and really discovering how to life life well has been a recurring topic of conversation around me lately. I'm not always the one starting it. It just happens. I think it is in part due to the fact that many of my friends are entering something of a midlife crisis, and questioning their position in life - or in some cases, confirming. Others are unhappy with the way their lives have turned out, and are making the effort to change it by going to school, divorcing, or seeking new opportunities.

Since I was 18, life has always been turbulent and in transition. As a result, my art has been fueled and changed, influenced and in some cases destroyed by change. It is interesting to compare my life to theirs in some ways. No midlife crisis for me, since while I have come into my own as a person, I have not settled in one area, or stopped long enough to look at my life and think "I'm dissatisfied." I simply move along, and if there are improvements to be made, I try to make them immediately. My friends, however, have reached the stage where they have done the same thing day in and day out for ten, possibly 15 years, and are only just now uncomfortable enough to want to make changes. The bizarre part is simply looking into the mainstream lifestyle and examining it like an anomaly. By living a somewhat alternative lifestyle to the norm, I have no need of a midlife crisis, only need of forward growth. I am doing what I had always intended to do, and as an artist, the act of coming into my own has been a life's work for me.

Part II: The Importance of Art

I received an email from a friend of mine a few days ago. It hit me hard, especially at 6am after just waking up. I'm not even sure why I was compelled to check my email at that hour. Who knows?

To give a little back story, my friend has been seeking the perfect gift for her father for many years. He's a hard man to shop for around birthdays and Christmas, so much so that she jokes saying "The only gift I gave my Dad that he liked was my son!" For Christmas, she had me make a custom "Wrath of Khan" Admiral James Kirk Uniform for him, with all the bells and trappings. He knew it instantly, but it hasn't been seen since.

For his birthday, she commissioned me to do a caricature of her son and her father, both dressed in flight suits with a jet that her father flew in the air force behind them. (F-18, I believe.) She presented it to him, and considered it a success. I received an email explaining the how's, and was completely flabbergasted. He had taken the picture, and rather than his standard "Thanks, I'll definitely use this" line, he simply looked at it for a few moments. He then thanked her, and loaded his grandson in to his car, intent on going taking him to the cottage for the weekend.

On the way to the cottage, an oncoming car slid into their lane, and her father was forced to swerve into the ditch to avoid a head on collision. They crumpled the front end against the bulwark of the ditch, and blew out the passenger side tires. Fortunately, no one was injured seriously. After removing my friend's son from the car, the only thing her dad took with them for the police car ride home was the picture. Not his briefcase,  his CD's... just the picture.

The second half of the email was a long and very flattering editorial about how important my art is, and how many lives I touch with my skill. She said "you never know just where your art will go, or whose life it will touch" and she is correct. When I see budget cuts for art programs in public schools, I will remember this time and know that despite what the accountants say, art is still important.

Part III: Return of the Giant Fish

A little later in the morning, after I had received my friend's email and spent a good couple of hours processing it mentally, I received a second email. This time it was from my mother, who had received a phone call from a pastor who had lived in London while I was a teen. He had apparently moved several times, and recently went through a folder that happened to contain a few of my drawings, along with my old information. He called the phone number, and got my parents who have been in the same house longer than I've been alive. Mom emailed me, to let me know he wanted to return the artwork.

I have no clue what he's talking about. I called him today, to see exactly what it was he had, and he offered to mail it to me. He described some of the drawings, and after 15 years, I have no clue. It seems that I must have done the drawings as a teenager, and submitted them either for a church bulletin, or to someone who happened to want a drawing of Jonah creeping out of a fish's mouth, and such things like that. Still, my brain resolutely refused to remember the how or why. I'm certain when I see it, I will know and maybe call him back with an answer, since he seemed as confused as me as to how he had collected the artwork.

Half a lifetime ago, I did a few drawings for someone, and now they're being returned to me without myself or the sender knowing how or why they were done. I'm not sure if I'll keep them. I have little use for old drawings that mean nothing to me, but it will be interesting to see how much my art has developed and grown. 

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