Monday, July 4, 2016
The Birth of an Artist
The world defines an artist as someone who practices the creative arts. But an artist is more than simply a practitioner. An artist is a person whose art lives deep inside them, whose soul is their art; and everything in their life, everything they see and do and everyone they know is affected by their art, which is their very life. An artist may work in an ordinary job, as a salesperson, a cashier, or as an engineer or as an architect, or as a designer, but, he or she will always see things through an artist's eyes; seeing things not as they are but what they can become.
When my son was born and I held him for the first time, I wondered who he was and who he would become. Watching him as he grew those questions grew inside me as he learned to crawl, then walk and talk. I wondered where life would lead him. Where would he go? What would he do? Who would he be with?
And the answers did not come gradually, but they came when I least expected them, taking me by surprise, showing me the future in quick bursts.
When he was three or four I was setting up the pool pump, in the process of getting the pool ready for spring; connecting the pool to the pump, the pump to the filter, and the filter to the pool. Jeremy was with me, watching everything I did with intent interest. After I finished, Jeremy said, "I know how this works." And he described the water being pulled from the pool into the pump, pushed into the filter and back into the pool. He watched as I cleaned the pool and told me how the pool vacuum worked.
And I asked myself, who is he? What would he become?
My wife and I bought him a Lego building kit when he was five or six. He immediately opened the box and began building the most complicated structure in the kit. He worked for hours non-stop, not even taking a break for dinner. And when he was finished we were amazed. A structure about 4 feet tall stood in our den in front of the fire place. "What is it?" I asked. So, Jeremy began to turn a handle and four balls began to rise from the bottom of the structure to the top, and when they reached the top they began a zig zag descent to the bottom.
And those same questions nagged at me.
Years passed. Jeremy and I were putting in a new kitchen floor. I took a break, but Jeremy continued to work. And as I stood watching him, the answers to my questions seemed clear to me. Jeremy was not a carpenter, or a handy man , or a mechanic or an engineer or an architect. He was something more. It was the way he approached a project with such vision; able to see it in its completed form before beginning it. It was the intensity with which he worked; not wanting to.. or even able to.. stop before he saw his vision realized. It was the way he worked, with such passion, as if the work had taken possession of his soul.
And so I knew. Jeremy was an artist, able to look past the present into the future; to see beauty in the ugly; able to create order from chaos; and willing to sacrifice himself for his art and his vision of what things can become.