Friday, August 08, 2008

How do you feel about that?

Vincent's Bedroom at Arles, by Vincent van Gogh

I found out yesterday that I was accepted into the master's program in counseling psychology at John F. Kennedy University.


Not sure how I feel about it. A part of me is glad that this part of the hoop-jumping is finished. It would be something to pursue this degree--it's been my bent and nature for most of my life.

However, as a reader and friends have told me, "just because you're good at something doesn't mean you should do it for a living." Wise words. There are a lot of things I'm good at that I don't feel particularly drawn to do professionally and even for myself (cooking).

Now, to disentangle myself from old dreams implanted by a childhood of meeting the emotional needs of others and figuring out what I want.

Granted, there's a curiosity factor for being a psychotherapist. I've explored many careers for the hell of it. This partially comes from the dictum to writers to get as much life experience as possible, and I didn't want to leave jobs out--something we do technically for a quarter of our day but somehow takes up our whole lives if we're not careful (or are seduced); something that can define us at a cocktail party or betray our sense of self at retirement.

This phase of my life--going on two years now--I've turned away from words (mostly) to dive into the visual world. Wordless experience. Aesthetics.

Not that words aren't beautiful, but I wanted out of my head and into my heart, and pictures were the most direct route.

I remember when I rented a cottage several years ago and was given free rein over the interior. I could paint and furnish it however I liked. But I didn't. I couldn't.

Sure, I tested colors on gorgeously rustic salvaged doors and window frames, but I never went ahead and painted any of them (maybe one door). I fought with myself from making a mark on a world I felt uncomfortable and didn't belong in, and told myself that decoration was superficial and unnecessary (especially for someone like me, who intellectualized everything).

My furniture was similarly stark and practical (boring). I couldn't see myself spending money--a way we show value in a capitalist, material-oriented culture (not that this is a bad thing, it's just how we show value)--on anything nice because I thought that would be wasteful.

It was a dark, hungry period for me that I've alluded to in the old bio on my web site. Creative anorexia. I thought it was spiritual and in some ways, it did develop me spiritually and philosophically, but it left my body starving--I wanted to taste, smell, hear, see, and touch and I wouldn't do it.

When I finally decided to make art--when I felt that my other choices and explorations had been exhausted, when I awoke one day realizing that I had spent my time encouraging and coaching others to achieve their dreams but left mine in a shoebox--it was difficult. After a serious fast--or famine--you never just stuff your face with food. You work your way up to a feast but you have to begin with nibbles and water first.

I'm constantly challenging myself with my art because it's what I'm choosing to work with right now. I prefer pencil and charcoal, but I decided to start painting and using colors when I officially began my career as an artist. It's because of the last two years that I can even consider painting walls a different color, or understand what colors work well together.

Being an artist was breaking the shell so I could make a tasty omelette out of my life.

So what's next? I would love the tools of a psychotherapist to help me listen better, to delve into my art deeper, and to offer something directly back while understanding myself better. I would also love to consider a profession in the interior design field--perhaps not just as a designer, but maybe as a journalist, blogger, photographer, draftsperson, that I can be a part of what irrationally and inexplicably brings me joy.

More later,


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