What is your purpose in life?
It sounds like such an overwhelming question. But when my friend (and catalyst) Zarah recently asked me, the answer came so easily it made me laugh: To tell the truth.
I am guessing you’ve experienced that alchemy that occurs when you take a question, an issue, or a project you’ve been struggling with and add another person and presto! Here come the feelings you didn’t know you had, the reservations you were afraid to admit, or the answers you thought must be wrong but turned out to be right after all.
It truly surprised me how effective it was in this context. Who knew I just needed to be asked? Well, and asked by someone I trusted.
And of course afterward I could look back at my life and see all the ways it clicked. I will not bore you with the details except to say this is definitely not my purpose in life because it’s something that was easy for me!
After this conversation, I went into the studio and turned on an old World Cafe on NPR that I had been meaning to finish listening to. The musician talks for a moment and then starts singing and these are the lyrics I hear:
I think back on my life in this stillness,
I consider the days of my youth,
And the moments I find myself willing,
To surrender and just tell the truth.
I’ve had more than a few moments in life where coincidences like these seemed to reinforce that I was on the right track, but this was a particularly lovely one.
And I can tell you the reason I became an artist was because in the studio I was able to find truths I didn’t even know I had. So perhaps a more precise way to describe my purpose is that it’s to find my truth and give it voice.
Now that I know my purpose in life, I have been…waiting for paint to dry. Ha! But it’s true (double ha). And did you know some oil paint colors take much longer to dry than others? Alizarin crimson, I’m looking at you!
While that paint is drying on my panels, I have been working up six more backgrounds for my Cluster pieces, so I’ll have a total of sixteen.
I continued working with the wooden people on the ten backgrounds that were ready, and I’m starting to find my footing with regard to their placement.
The heart of my work is connection, so the question for me here is how the placement creates a sense of the people behind these silhouettes. If it’s working, your eye should move over them and around them but keep landing on a person who you wish you knew more about, and whose story you start creating in your mind. And of course I want you to feel the tangle, the knot, of the background, but also the beauty.
Truth! Beauty! Onward!