Years ago I thought I had an important story to tell: One of survival, a right and wrong path, a fight to discover my true self and to express that self through art. I’d developed a secure belief system I felt was right. I started writing this blog, believing it to be a way to tell my artist’s story. I felt it was a story that needed to be put out there, because I believed absolutely that it would bring more people to their art. And I knew that was important.
Many of you have been following me since then. You’ve stayed with me all the way from my days of active writing, five and seven days per week, till now when I hardly ever post. Thanks for your loyalty by the way. It’s meant the world. This cessation of writing occurred as I faced problems strong enough to break my faith in any belief system. Issues that threatened to break both me and my resolve.
At that time I truly believed I’d survived a health crisis in the 1990s as part of an ongoing message. The Universe was telling me, had been telling me, that I was off-course. This catastrophe was a directive suggesting that, and was meant to right my course. This course-righting was to bring me from a corporate role in a capitalist society into an artful life.
I did come to understand that art heals. It cured me, afterall. I watched amazing growth in many of my students, and not just in their painting skills. Several became deeply spiritual.
Why, then, with all this progress being made and so many lessons learned, would I be stricken again?
The wrong path?
Do I still believe in any of that?
Perhaps this is where life wants me to be: teetering on the edge of humility and wreckage. But why?
It was impossible to write hopeful pieces for you all when I was feeling personally hopeless. I recently read a quote from Michael J. Fox in which he wrote, “Disease has a way of knocking you down to the point you just give up and get used to it.” Yes.
I’d always clung to Hunter S Thompson’s thought that, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” Nothing else ever occurred to me.
But maybe I’ve been taking this pounding to bring me to a different reality. Perhaps I’m being asked to give up ego entirely and to just be, like a tree is, or my dog, the coyotes I heard in the night last night. I mean I feel Thompson’s, “… thoroughly used up, totally worn out,” notion in my bones. Almost anyway. Perhaps this is my skidding ride? More of a fade, really.
And a deepening as well.
I feel peaceful and like there is a weight off. There are no expectations. No urgent deadlines. No acts that must be taken. In fact I feel pretty darned fulfilled. Happy even!
Years ago, not long before starting the blog, I met an aspiring writer. She and her husband came into the Truchas gallery I owned with a couple of other artists. They bought one of my paintings and we became long distance friends. Of course I prodded her to leave her job as a university professor to begin writing full time. I was so sure of my world view back then. And I was pompous enough to believe I understood what was right for her. (I’m especially thankful for her patience and grace through the years).
So I asked her to write my memoir, my story in her words. I knew I didn’t have the skill to tell it well and full on, but I believed intensely that it should be told. I actually thought it might have the power to lift others up, to show them that an artful life is a possibility. Amazingly she accepted.
That was more than 10 years ago now and the result is what I believe to be a beautiful hybrid memoir. It’s a story about two artists’ journeys to find their art and, once found, to actually live it. It is a message of hope because it demonstrates that it’s possible. But at the same time it illustrates the difficulty in sustaining one’s art in a society built on needing money to live.
This book doesn’t end with answers. Perhaps it’s meaningful that I no longer feel I possess them, for myself and certainly not for others.
Most of the names of both people and places have been changed to protect some privacies. But I wanted you all to know about it. Many of you have suggested I write a book about my journey. Here it is in both Kathy’s words and mine, told better than I ever could.
To learn more about Kathy and the book, which she’s written under the name Kate Calder Klein, check out her website at http://kathylkessler.com.
The book is available NOW on my Etsy site: etsy.com/shop/SouthwestJewelryUS/ and on Kathy’s website: https://kathylkessler.com/. It will also be available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1614686963 and The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany NY: https://shoptbmbooks.com/Purveyors_of_Light_and_Shadow.html as well as other booksellers to be announced.
I’d be pleased to know what you all think about it so please drop me a line when you can.
Love to you all,