Welcome to Morning Blogapalooz-Hour Vol. 1, where we are challenged to “Write about a period or moment in your life when you were at your best”. And to post it within an hour.
The prompt says to write about the “one of many times” when I was at the top of my game as a human being, student, friend, parent, spouse, athlete, blogger, etc. Not the single greatest moment, but one of them.
Feeling a bit like the narrator in Dylan Thomas’ “Child’s Christmas in Wales”, I plunge my hands in and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand and out comes … me at the front of a lovely hushed huge auditorium.
I’m giving a slide presentation about my work. Invited by a friend to offer my thoughts, and my work to a group of art students in their first year of undergraduate study. My job is to give them an idea of how to be an artist. How to make work and keep on making it, keep yourself moving along; a professional.
This is a topic that comes up frequently, and I’m not saying I’m necessarily an expert at it. I have long spells where my art sits waiting patiently for me to pay attention to it. But I can say this; so far, I keep coming back. And the return to it is sustaining and vital and real. There are artists who have more commercial success than I, more public reinforcement, exhibitions, rewards, etc. And the best of them, I know, do it for that connection – that reality that doing it makes them a better person. Keeps them at the top of their game. They don’t do it for the success and attention. They do it because doing it is them at their best.
When I was an undergraduate art student myself, studying photography at the UW in Madison, a study was published by an organization founded to promote teaching of Photography. They’d done a survey tracking the success of students who’d graduated with degrees in Photography from U.S. colleges and universities. Ten years after finishing school, some small percentage described themselves as still doing photography. The findings were presented to me and my classmates as shameful, an embarrassment. Something we would need to be cautious about so we didn’t end up failures like that.
But my thought was then, and still is, “What if they are doing something better? more fulfilling?”
For me, I come back to photography. And to teaching. Realizing now that the moment my hand found today gathers these. And seeing also the importance of an open-mind; especially in teaching.
As an undergraduate, I was challenged to see success in what was defined for me as failure.
This moment helps me to see that being my best is to truly be with my passions. And that my interests ever remain a choice among many possible ones.
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