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Taking Flight

I remember a moment in my first year of college, trembling with joy to think that  my job, my sole responsibility, was to learn. I could choose whatever I wanted to explore and dive in. How incredible! How amazing! How lucky! I took Latin, philosophy, computer programming…. with no thought as to where it would take me, only that I thought it was interesting.

Somehow, at some point, that idyll morphed into a career, a business, and a life that, while still interesting, became more about getting stuff done. There were so many things to do. And with a couple of decades under my belt I got pretty good at getting stuff done. Too good perhaps. For even though I’ve graduated from the work-a-day world, I still operate as if my days are all too short periods of time in which to get stuff done and at day’s end I tend to measure success in how many things I checked off my to-do list. Or worse still, by how many things remain to do - a recipe for despair if ever there was one. Even painting, which during my working years was a sacred refuge, began morphing into a list of obligations and expectations.

One morning I woke to wonder - How had I even turned painting, my passion, into a list of to-dos? How long before it became drudgery? I realize that unlike a job I could simply stop painting, but then what? I could take a break, sure, but I don’t really want that. I just need to be free from the obligation and checklists. Free to explore. Free to learn. A sabbatical! It hit like an epiphany should: Teachers do this all the time! On occasion they may step away from their daily regimen to dig deep into some area of study. There is an obligation to report back in some form on what they have learned but they are released from the daily grind. The idea brought me back to that college excitement and to a wonderful decision.

I’ve decided that effective immediately I’m on sabbatical! From the outside looking in you might not notice any changes. I’ll still be in the studio and at the easel. I’m not letting go of any specific duties, but mentally it works. It allows me to let go of the obligations of creating finished work and instead turn to diving deep without trying to suss out where it might lead. I’ll be investigating tools, techniques, and topics, wherever my heart leads without worrying about why. And we’ll see. Of course I will report back… to you, but other than that, no obligations.

From the outside it may not look that different, but from inside me, I’m already luxuriating in that old collegiate joy of learning for learning’s sake.

Stay tuned!

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