Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thought for The Day - My Journey is not Yours

Soul Dance 8 x 11 Colored Pencils

I've never struggled with this; the logic has always made sense to me. "Everyone can't walk in your shoes," that thought has been part of me as far back as I can remember. As a child, I could sit and look at a book for hours! And as I learned to read I could read book after book. My mother put me in tow with cousins when I was about 8 or 9 years old, to go to the library, a good 6 blocks from our apartment. And what was I reading? Books on Black history, slavery and (my childhood hero) Frederick Douglas. Sure I liked playing with the many cousins who lived nearby, but very early on, I figured out, no matter how close they are to you, people choose to take advantage of kindness and tell your secrets. While I won't say that drove me to the "inner world" of reading and art, it contributed to it.

My outlet isn't yours...

I have a great friend, we met years ago as young men, attending a fairly large church nearby. He owned a car detail shop, where he would clean cars by hand. Now the business was located in the parking structure of a major catalog company at the time, and his enclosed garage within it, was in the basement. But it was always his dream - and still is - to have a location on a busy street. He's an outgoing type, a naturally kind, generous and friendly guy. Years ago, we compared personalities when he asked me to render a building design for him. He wanted to sit with me and tell me step-by-step what he wanted the design to look. I told him that isn't my work style; I prefer you tell me what you want, allow me the time to render a few ideas and then present them. He didn't get it; he said he liked for people to watch him "clean their cars" and show him what he was doing wrong. Honestly, I never believed he wanted that, though, in his head at the time, it made perfect sense. Now I could clean my car by hand; Saturday evenings was the time I would clean my wife's and my car, cleaning them inside and out. I would have jazz music  or maybe Gospel music playing from one car while I cleaned the other. But I always preferred that I have that time alone. I really didn't want someone around telling me "you missed a spot," or "you really should use a chamois rather than a terry cloth towel because ______. " No, let me have this time to do my work as I see fit.

I watched my children as they grew up and wondered what their outlets would be. My daughter has a wonderful, caring personality and speaks well in public settings, but that isn't her "thing." My middle son, when he was 3 or 4, could play for hours with Hot Wheel cars, but he always wanted to build cranes and pulley systems - using my weight bench "grrrr!" When he was about 6, he had a list of 'jobs' he wanted to do, but the one that seemed to get the most attention was "I want to be a working man!" Words he would say with force and his hands stretched out like he was holding a bunch of tools in both. While my daughter didn't have an idea what she wanted to do until she went to college, my middle son figured it out by his freshman year in high school. Both are bold and willing to try out different areas. When I ask my youngest what he wants to do - and believe me I've been asking for a long time - now he says "I haven't figured it out yet." Actually, I'm sure I know what he would love to do, but it's hard to agree that you will spend the remainder of your life in a room "playing video games."

I've found multiple ways to express myself and so very often, it doesn't require that I utter a word. But words, images, concepts and viewpoints are intricate to my way of contributing to the world. Final analysis? Be. Create the means by which you will contribute to this world and surely it will fit in the grand scheme of this world.