Ryan requested Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist from the library, and I picked it up the other day. It looked intriguing – not too many words and lots of cool pictures. I generally do not consider myself creative, and I look to my very creative, artistic husband to inspire and teach Colson and me.
I didn’t do anything remotely artistic from about the age of 10 until 28, when I met Ryan. I will never forget my shock and amazement when he suggested that we finger paint a clay flowerpot that I had. Seriously? I am a non-artistic, serious adult and I don’t do that. With much trepidation I dipped my fingers in and began to paint – what a giddy blast! I was so tickled that I think Ryan thought I was from another galaxy. I love the creative, sensitive yet Hooah soldier that I married. How he can be all of those things at once I don’t know.
Ryan is always looking for ways to be creative. We are now creating on a mobile based on the work of Alexander Calder:
Calder’s work was displayed at Duke and we were fortunate enough to view it with a homeschool tour. The docent had us stop and reflect on several key pieces, which made our brains hum with excitement.
I have never seen Ryan settle. He doesn’t let the eight hours a day staring at a computer sap him of his creativity (this is especially hard for a guy who used to lead soldiers and their families on adventure trips) and there is always a project brewing. Right now I have the mental space to ride along with him and create our Calder-ish mobile. We are developing some really cool innovations - one of them is even mine! I am not letting all of the other things I should be doing take away from this experience. It is kind of like the awakening I had when I decided to slow down and look to on either side of the path in the mornings when I walk our dog (see Best Your Stress Month – First Two Days and a few other posts I made in April). Thank you again, Chris Kresser!
Colson is another inspiration. Today we were at that North Carolina Gem and Mineral Show. Colson wanted to buy an old fashioned key pendant. A clock was engraved around the area that you would hold the key, and on the neck of the key was the word “NOW.” Colson got very excited and asked to buy it. I asked why, and he said because it inspired him. He was going to wear it all the time. The woman who sold it was so turned on by his excitement that she gave him a little necklace for the pendant. The kids we were with asked him why this pendant was so cool, and he said he likes the word NOW and the clock because it means that he should not live in the past or the future but right now because this is all we have. It was so much fun to watch three nine year olds and a six year old ponder that. If I can keep learning from Colson and not ruin NOW, maybe he can hold onto NOW and not have to relearn it the way I am at age 46.
Back to Steal Like An Artist. Why is this book on my mind? Because it encourages us to create what we want. One of the things I want is an America and government that respects its citizens. The North Carolina legislature, whose citizen-pounding actions I find outrageous, does anything but respect its citizens. They just gave Colson and me the bird again last week by not allowing us and 200 other people opposed to the natural gas extraction process of fracking into a committee meeting, where we intended and should have been allowed to give testimony. And now the legislature is considering two more bills where science and citizen concerns are being kicked to the curb after being thrown under the bus.
Even though I am having a great time being creative with my family and enjoying them more than ever, it is hard to stay out of this fight. It is a fight for citizen participation in government – the foundation of our country. I am a pretty good former lobbyist, I am skilled in stuff like this (see North Carolina CAM Practitioners Safe For Now - Thank You and How We Did It), and the loss of citizen involvement in government causes me great concern for my son’s future. It is amazing to me how many people are blind to the degradation of citizen rights and how few people are willing to do anything about it.
We are watching the HBO movie of David McCullough’s John Adams. John Adams is my favorite revolutionary hero and he sacrificed much to create a free country. Colson says we should fight for citizen rights and make the sacrifice, just as John Adams did, but Colson doesn’t understand how much time and energy it will take. Do I have an obligation to do what I do best professionally and try and secure a better government for my son? Or can I take a pass this time and leave it to the younger generation? I have put in a couple of decades fighting the fight for government openness, responsibility, and accountability. If I take a pass, then I am not creating what I want in one part of my life, but to undertake the effort is more future focused and not in the NOW. Taking the pass will allow me to create what I want in my family life NOW. Do I do just a little citizen participation work and see where it leads? What to do?