Spring has sprung in Georgia, and although our winter was not nearly as bad as many parts of the country, I don't think I have been this excited to see budding trees or sprouting tulips in a long time. I wrote this piece last summer, and thought it would be a good time to share it...as potential is all around us!
On a recent trip back home to Western New York, I spent an afternoon with a dear friend and one of my former painting teachers. Even though we are over a decade apart in age, we have children the same age and have both been married for about the same amount of time. As we reminisced we discovered that our lives have many parallels.
We talked about our families, compared notes on marriage, and spent a long time sharing the names and paintings of artists who are inspiring us at this stage in our Artistic growth. We shared our struggles of wanting to be good mothers, while still being able to feed that part of us that makes us Who We Are – our Art. The goal to always be growing – always be improving – always be producing Art - is strong in many artists, and our lives are often moving at too quick a pace for us to fulfill our desires to be in the studio.
As she showed me around her home, her studio, her garden and even her garage, one story really resonated with me. Last summer, her husband continued his tradition of hatching cocoons for their two daughters. That year, however, one cocoon did not thrive, and at the end of the summer her husband tucked it away on a shelf in the garage, forgotten. (Both being artists, neither parent could throw away what could be a subject for a later sketch or painting!)
This summer, not realizing that she found a rejected cocoon from the summer before and not one of the new cocoons ready for this year, she set the cocoon up and prepared to watch it fulfill its’ destiny. Her husband pointed out that this was probably not going to happen. Imagine my friend’s surprise as she walked into the garage one day and discovered the butterfly slowly emerging, damp wings curled. She ran to get her camera as the delicate creature spread her wings, allowed them to dry, and made her first feeble attempts to take flight. My friend witnessed the butterfly fly out of the garage and into the sun.
There are many parts of our lives that we put upon a shelf, tucked away for a later date, to be retrieved when there is money in the bank, fewer items on the “to do” list, or time on our calendar. Those parts of us that make us happy – learning to salsa dance, taking a painting course, finally trying out scuba diving! – are not a priority when the kids need to be fed, the lawn has to be cut, and the laundry is piling up.
For one day, take that tucked away and forgotten bit of potential down off the shelf, dust it off, and give it a chance to emerge and come to life. Take a class. Learn a new skill. Go out dancing! It’s not too late, and you are never too old. Potential. It’s one of my all-time favorite words. Potential cannot be predicted or measured. There is no end, there is no maximum amount to be reached. That cocoon may have been tucked up on a shelf, but its’ potential never died.
***This article originally appeared in the Towne Laker Magazine, Woodstock, GA, in 2013