I like making snowflakes. I liked cutting them out and sticking them on winter windows in school and I liked sticking them on the windows at home. I still liked cutting them out when I was designing packaging for a living. Some things are perennially perfect activities and I don't care about all the little bits of paper that get scattered around.
Mom hated the snowflake activity. She did care about scattered bits of paper. She hated Legos and all sorts of things I liked to do. That's fine. She didn't have to cut paper or play with Legos. Do your own thing. Be happy.
This sounds so simple. It is simple. There's all sorts of aphorisms that reinforce the thought. The problem is we talk ourselves out of it, and other people try to talk us out of it too. For example, when I happily cut snowflakes at work, my coworkers told me to get serious and quit having fun. I shooed them away and kept cutting. An afternoon of quiet clipping turned into many successful package designs.
Although this supported my paycheck, I didn't consider it "important". They weren't like Rembrandt's portraits, Van Gogh's sunflowers, or anything else the masters created. I kept waiting for an epiphany to lead me to my own masterpieces. I think too many of us keep waiting for an epiphany and don't even cut snowflakes in the meantime. I'm not just talking about art. Whatever floats your boat, do it.
Mr. Roger's "Nobody else can live the life you live" has been stuck in my head for quite a while. “You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There's never been anyone exactly like you before, and there will never be again."
This has often struck me as both absolutely true and impossible. There are so many people in the world. All the great paintings have already been painted; there are no new ideas, just variations on snowflakes that look like solid white when they get together. And yet, no two snowflakes are alike, right?
My recent paintings are an attempt to live up to Mr. Roger's affirmations. The paintings are about my unique life. Nobody else could paint them because I'm telling my stories. Someone else could paint similar objects in a similar style, or paint their own stories in their own way, and it would be something entirely different. That's great. Even with the billions of people on the planet there's still room for all of us to express ourselves.
It's one thing to aspire to the masters and another to be choked by their achievements. I don't want to be Van Gogh. He was nuts. Rembrandt died poor. I'm painting in a pursuit of happiness. It doesn't matter if these men achieved more posthumous fame and fortune. What matters is following Mr. Rogers' wisdom and being my best me.
I've been thinking of these things for a while, but maybe I'm being extra fatalistic since I found out Jason Furcsik died. He's another of my brothers' lifelong friends from the Glen, and yet another of their friends to die far too young. I feel so sad.
On a brighter note, Bro2 brought his new puppy over. For a ricocheting ball of energy, he is so gentle with my ancient dog. It's funny to watch them play together. They're in love, and I have to say I'm in love with the adorable little thing too.