Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bull's - Eye

"In the end it all comes down to this: you have a choice (or more accurately a rolling tangle of choices) between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot - and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy. It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice."

~ Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking; Bayles & Orland

The tricky thing about motherhood is that we spend every moment, of every day, aiming at a bull's-eye we cannot see. It's not just that it's invisible, it's non-existent.

Every time that we are aiming for this goal, this image, this pathway that is as yet uncreated, our child is themselves being formed, and who they become plays a great part in where they are headed.

We play not only the role of facilitator to that end, but of visionary. We paint the bull's-eye for them, we reach for colours they have not yet seen, we describe ideas they have never heard of, we articulate scenarios and possibilities; options and opportunity for them; for their future; for who they can become, what they can do, what they can accomplish and achieve. And we hold before them the truth that who they are can literally change the world.

Even if that world is only a city block, a family, an act of service or a new idea. A book, a poem, a lecture, a life. Anything they can be is still out on the table, and as a mother we set that table every single day with possibility, while we ourseles are looking into the great unknown before them and trying to lay the right utensils, the right tools, on the as yet unseeable surface.

Some days we paint a bull's-eye everywhere. We paint one in the foggy tomorrow, we speak one into the misty now, we describe one in the haze of newly formed neurons and growing bones and crackling voiceboxes. Some days the unknowns weigh too heavy and we become the bull's-eye.

The untrained child aims for an easy target to practice on and it stings, it's glory, it wounds. Other days bystanders are threatened by what they themselves have not aimed for and they join in the barrage of pointing an arrow at us, too. And we have a choice. Paint a bull's-eye for them or be the bull's-eye. Let them practice, too. Let them feel the inoculization of a change agent against the norm, the catalyst of hope and option. We choose to embody what can be and let the forms of it take shape in kind words, open doors, being present.

Mothers wake up every day knee-deep in a sense of uncertainty, of how one word, one hug, one choice of ours can make an infinite amount of difference - not just to them - those we birthed and encircle - but to all who they will affect and touch themselves. We fall asleep every night chastising ourselves for the what if's, the could have been's, the if only's. We know the weight, we know the price, but still we aim for the inconceivable. Because we know, we see, who it is we ourselves have conceived.

The precious, un-seeable futures that we - so aware - bring to being by our belief. By our affirmations. And by the moments, the details, of the day that hold the palette, the paint brushes and the potential for who the little person in our home will be.

It is both keen artistry, beautiful collage and fine craft work ... and it is paralyzing. It is sucker-punching, inexplicable, an incapacitating burden. But it is art nonetheless. And it is an honour to know we are artists, even when all the rest of the world may see only the shapeless future, we see the beginnings of the outline. The rings of potential forming a shape, a wavelength, a rhythm that our child may march to, beat out, or become himself.

We see beauty. And we have a marvelous hand in bringing that beauty to light.

The weight of motherhood is the weight of an artist. And an artist is one who sees what no-one else can see and lets it come to breath. To life. To living.

It's sight.

{Some of these reflections were inspired by Temple Grandin's mother. The piece itself is a rough draft that was written for a discussion on Art and Fear with a group of other artists. Another great post about all this, that I have been reflecting on, by Donald Miller is here. }

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