May 09, 2012

A Missed Calling

When you're a person of many interests in life, you have to make some choices.

Back in high school, I was equally as interested in - and good at - math and science as I was art and literature. I would have just as well written a poem as solved a calculus problem or dissected a fetal pig.

So when I went to college and pursued my first love as an English major, in order to explore some electives that weren't offered in high school - philosophy, religion, psychology, women's studies - I had to sacrifice some other disciplines. I favored taking classes like Embryology and the Philosophy of Law over mathematics, French, and art. I crammed as much as I could in, majoring in English and minoring in Biology, but there's only so much you can do.

I haven't really missed math much. I've missed French so much that I've signed up for an eight-week course at the Alliance Francaise, which starts next week.

A few years into my tenure in New York City, I took an art class as soon as I had a little bit of income to spare, and delved into the world of book arts, printmaking, and bookbinding. I was good. My teacher told me to stick with it. And I told her I feared that as soon as the class was over, I'd give it up.

And that's exactly what happened.

I hadn't really missed it since then until this week, when my return visit to New York celebrated Edith's graduation from Pratt, earning a Masters in Historic Preservation amongst a bunch of art school students. Sitting in the awards ceremony and commencement, I found myself kicking myself, thinking, "I should have gone to art school."

It actually never occurred to me before, though throughout my childhood, I was always a prolific artist. I always did well in art class, especially painting and illustration, and I've always been able to sew, do collage, photograph, graphic design. But it never seemed like it could be a career for me. I knew I could write, and maybe someday I'd write for a living, but wasn't everything else just a hobby?

But now, years later, 15 years into my career in the music industry which is decidedly not creative despite the occasional ad copy or press release written, I'm wondering if I've missed my calling.

Should I have gone to art school? Is there a (new) career I could (have) pursue(d) in the arts?

My therapist in New York always referred to me as an artist, dismissing some of my more pathological thought patterns and behaviors as being a result of my creative side, but I always thought that's because I'm a writer and an actor. Are those two hobbies enough to make me an actual artist?

And if I'm already an artist, do I need to go to school for it? Is there some woodworking technique out there that I'm meant to apprentice?

Or should I just accept that whatever path I'm on is what it is? I've got plenty to learn in life. I can't quite imagine going back to school but I can't quite imagine sitting behind a desk for the rest of my life either, cooped up in an office, spinning my wheels, isolated from the world...

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