At what point along our way do we say, “This is the life we have chosen.” How much of our life have we chosen? Mae and I chose to move to Windenburg, all those years ago. It was my dream, really, and Mae chose to come along.
Mae chose to keep Charlie–and not to marry Paolo–and we both chose to raise Charlie together.
My career as a painter has developed as I’d dreamed–in fact, it’s surpassed my dreams. And now, I’m adding music to my life as another way to feel the joy of expression.
Mae’s writing career has developed more slowly. I don’t think she ever sat down and said, “I want to be a writer,” the way I said, at a very young age, from that point where heart meets will, “I want to paint! I am an artist!” Instead, Mae has had stories to tell, and she has told them.
I never see Mae worry about life and how it has unfolded. She just gets up each morning and lives, doing what needs to be done, finding time for what brings her joy.
Her engagement for creating change wraps itself around Charlie and providing for him contexts for thriving. A lot of her efforts have gone towards challenging the school district.
Right now, she’s upset because his A from primary school didn’t carry over to secondary. He’s starting at a B.
I heard her cursing under her breath the other day while checking Charlie’s grades through the Parent Portal.
“How can this be?” she said. “He’s already mastered these subjects ages ago!”
It’s not the grades we care so much about–it’s the free time they buy. Both of us want Charlie to be able to choose if he goes to school or not. If he’s in the midst learning to paint (which he is, right now), we want him to have the freedom to paint all night and into the next morning, rather than having to go to bed at a certain time in order to get up for school.
Once he earns that A, the Program allows him to use vacation, sick , and special excuse days to miss class if he’s working on other learning projects.
When he was a little kid, he loved school because it meant kickball. I half expected he’d grow up wanting to be an athlete, like his dad.
But lately, he’s showing a sensitive, introspective side to him.
He’s not expressing this through his art yet–he’s still experimenting with the medium and composition. But I’m excited to see what he creates as his mastery develops.
He’s become somewhat of a philosopher lately, and he’s been talking a lot with me about religious and spiritual ideas.
“I feel reverence is the greatest of all emotions,” he said to me.
“Reverence?” I asked. “Maybe I’d use the word awe. Or wonder. Or gratitude. But different flavors of the same thing, right?”
“Right,” he replied. “And humility. Humility is important.”
He had me on that one. I don’t think I would ever have stuck humility on my top ten list of personal attributes.
“Where did you get humility?” I asked.
“From you and Mae,” he said. “I mean, think about it. You’re one of the best artists in all of Windenburg. Maybe even one of the best living artists. And do you ever even talk about what you’ve accomplished? You talk about art, but you don’t brag.”
“Oh,” I deflected, “That’s just part of mastering something. You’ll see. As you work through the discipline of gaining skill, then as you work to let what wants to be expressed be expressed through you, you’ll see that you disappear. I bet you already notice that in your music. I’m sure you do. I can see it. So, it’s not so much humility, as it is surrendering yourself to what is greater than you–the art.”
“That’s humility,” he said, and he turned back to his journal.
How much of life do we create, and how much does life create us? It’s all surrender: learning anything, moving through a day, raising a child, letting life move through you, responding to the universe as this tiny planet travels along its spiral path. It’s all surrender, and that’s where we find ourselves.