The Lament of the Artist, a 4-part series of personal stories…
Part II – The First Breakthrough
My thoughts hid just beyond my reach – all pathways doused with fear. That English teacher in 10th grade never did give back our papers. Perhaps my classmates hadn’t even glanced my way. If a tree falls in a forest, and in the end nobody hears, why be so bent out of shape? Because the tree that’s falling falls regardless. And it hurts.
The years passed and that feeling of having nothing to say hovered over me like a murder of black crows. Filled with gregariousness, I wanted to spill into the world. Yet a vicious cycle of self reproach calcified into a maze of can’t, won’t, don’t inhibitions. I was doomed before I could start. For 20 years I did nothing creative. Though fear is a mindset, made of nothing more than air, I believed my own myth. Reticence was a warden who locked my voice behind an iron door. The harder I tried to get out, the harder I kept myself in.
At 25, I finally short circuited. My creativity refused to be suffocated and it exploded forth. I quit my pre-law job within minutes of the internal combustion, which occurred walking through the garment district in Boston on my way to the office. I named myself an actress that day, the moment I gave my resignation, immediately joining a theater group and looking for parts. This led to stints as fashion designer, art student, weaver, fiber artist, handmade greeting card designer, potter, book artist, conceptual artist – and ultimately a songwriter.
These parts of me tipped like dominoes, phase upon phase, decade upon decade. It was almost as if every few years I’d wake in time and space to find myself in the thick of a new brand of chaos. Over and over, I bucked the career track that had advanced my peers in mad pursuit of originality and self expression. Largely self-taught, I luxuriated in the freedom of my right brain to lead me in artistic quests of experimentation. Yet enthusiasm could carry me only so far – eventually, the gatekeeper in my head would draw a line in the sand and warn “Out of Your League”. And here would be the cue to reinvent myself yet again.