I had come to the class to teach public speaking. But I had not come to teach about being perfect at it. In fact, as I shifted my weight side to side and stumbled over my um’s, I pretty much broke every public speaking rule in the book.
They had signed up to learn about Speech. I had signed up to teach about courage.
It was two years ago from the podium, I stood in front of homeschooled high-schoolers to teach. I hadn’t rehearsed a speech or had laid out a rigid curriculum.
Instead, I remembered my own teenage years, wearing a Stevie-Nicks-like black skirt flowing about my ankles. I remembered driving a white Ford Pinto with a sunroof and tape deck playing a tune from Motley Crue. I remembered how I had taken my oil paintings, short stories, my poems, doodle art pads, and stored them away. I remembered English, Math, and Science as the real classes while art was just an elective. For art to be more than that, would’ve been more than I dared.
“How much dissolving and shaking of ego we must endure before we discover our deep identity-the true self within ever human being that is the seed of authentic vocation.” ~ Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
But I also remembered Ms. Gaiter, my English teacher in southwest Georgia, whose ebony hair held in a tight bun as her voice dripped with refinement, chin tilted up, when telling her pupils to “enunciate our words.” And I imagined her as royalty for saying the high-n-mighty word “enunciate” versus its simpleton similie, pronounce.
I remembered Mr. Margeson, my art teacher, who saw my eyes light when I studied how shadows darkened and stretched behind a copper pot. He had offered to help me take my creative love on to college. For a split second, my heart jumped in my chest with thoughts of art and poetry as part of my future.
But real life outside of class dampened my hopes. There were more practical things to consider. As my senior year drew closer to the end, I had to think of moving out and paying bills. A curriculum of painting and writing clashed with reality.
I would not only move out–I’d move to Japan–Okinawa in particular. Education would be a trial by fire of Asian culture. I exchanged one dream for another. Art for travel. It was as if the two could not co-exist. At least, that’s how it worked in my head.
Yet, art lived on. It lived among coral reefs and caves carved out from an ocean’s tide. It showed up on craggy cliffs overlooking foamy green seas colliding together. It went to live on a Texas farm under a cascading sun that turned winter clouds into cotton balls of purple and red. It revealed itself in blustery winds from an Alps’ peak that towered over a building at the bottom of the Zugspitze. It spoke on a lake where water lapped the beach in a soft schoon, schooing, as it caressed the sand. It rested in a café on a Parisian street overlooking the Seine. It outlined landscapes on a Kentucky back road where karst terrain jutted lush green grass into large knolls.
It took me over a decade to come back, to finally embrace the love of it. Years had went by before I finally affirmed and fully grasped God’s creative nature in me as an adult. This was not only for child’s play. This was God’s design seen everywhere I looked. It is even part of our human DNA. Science is creative too.
What I’ve learned is that art never leaves. Art doesn’t grow up. Art isn’t defined by age. It is not an elective part of life. Art is anywhere your eye chooses to see it. God created because He is creative. Art is how you elect to notice it. It can also be how you elect to practice it.
When I taught the homeschoolers, I wanted them to listen to their own lives. To be in-tune to the creative energy that God put inside them. Not all art looks the same. But each one of us has a gift uniquely for us, that God has given.
Once you find the art you were made to do, after you wrestle it, deny it, only to re-embrace it, you learn to own it. You learn to own the space of it.
Because life is loud and pushy. Art can get lost and forsaken within it. You have to practice noticing it.
I told the students to be brave. Don’t let fear keep you from doing what God has created you to do. Make a good go of it. Have courage to try.
And this is what I need you to also know. This world needs you to show up for yourselves too. To walk up to the front of your life, or your gifts, and stand solidly right there for a moment. Take a deep breath. Speak with passion and from the heart, play like nobody’s business, love like there’s no tomorrows, but show up. Relax and give it all you got. Show up and live this one life. Own your space.
Recover your creative self.
And own your art.
July 9, 2015
You know I love this for so many, many reasons!
July 9, 2015
Karrilee, yep. Girl, we’re in this together, ain’t we?
July 9, 2015
Such a good word, “learn to own your art”. Yes!
July 9, 2015
Elizabeth, that was THE hardest for me. To quit belittling, downplaying, or poo-poo-ing it. To OWN it because it was God’s too.
July 10, 2015
Oh, this left me with the biggest smile, Tammy!
And now I want to go make ALL-THE-THINGS. 😉
September 11, 2018
Thanks for this. Great timing. <3