When an artist conjures up an idea or image and creates a masterpiece, or what she believes could be a masterpiece, she might make many small changes to her work, before she feels satisfied that it is right and complete. It’s doubtful she begins with negative thoughts that this will fail, that this will be ugly, that this will be nothing very special… When a chef creates a dish she imagines will be appreciated as a masterpiece, she might increase the spices, change the texture, adjust the temperature, or add more ingredients before she feels it is right and complete. It’s doubtful she begins with thoughts of things that won’t blend well together…what a waste of time that would be. I believe that when we’ve created the life we imagined, or are having the lifestyle we thought we wanted, and find ourselves actually “living the dream,” we must do whatever we have to do to keep it operating smoothly and change or add and revise as needed, so that it feels right, and we think of it as our masterpiece. What purpose is there at all to simply exist and not relish what we are ‘having?’ Is just breathing in and breathing out, living?
Over many years of trial and error I found myself having to accept the reality that the life I had -“dreamed of-” was neither the life I was actually living nor, upon deep thought and reflection, really what I wanted anyway…so I would end a chapter and turn a page and create the next phase, in a perpetual effort to live a life I could think of as a masterpiece. I have done this over and over, over the years of my life, and do believe it is the only way to ultimately GET where you want to be, both figuratively and literally; to assess and to modify, to adapt or to overcome, or to end a chapter and start a new page.
“Live as though life was created for you.” – Maya Angelou
The WHERE, as in place is set, not in stone, but in 2×4’s, 5/8 plywood, 3/4 gypsum, and the coolest silver metal roof in my town, right next door to the three girls who make my heart pitter-patter; my daughter and her daughters. I built my house exactly when I did and exactly where I did so that I could be an active participant in helping my adult child raise her young children. Sometimes, if I’m in one of those moods, I feel anxious that babysitting is on the schedule far more times a month than perhaps it is for most neighbors or Na-nas, but that was the plan…I would be an integral part of their lives…and I do believe that it really does “take a village” and we created our own village…
GET where I want to be, as in the dreamy philosophical idealized sense, the way I imagine I want my life to be, or think I want the days of my life to flow, is not set at all; it’s totally fluid…in and out, heavy and light, rough and calm, it is nothing I can modify, because it ISN’T anything…the masterpiece that is my life is being created every day I am alive, it is constantly changing…I think hundreds of thoughts a day. I imagine hundreds of scenarios a day. I have hundreds of narratives in my head a day. There are hundreds of ‘lives’ I could create, all of them appealing and seemingly right, and any one of those ideas could be the masterpiece. Any change to any part of the equation can turn the whole “thing” into something else…Meaning I could fall down any rabbit hole and the outcome would be manageable…
A couple of days ago with my granddaughters the youngest one asked, “Nana do you have a boss?” and I told her no, I was my own boss, it’s called self-employed, to which she responded, “you are SO LUCKY, that means you can do anything you want to do.” She said it with such reverence for this concept and I thought later that day, she is so right. I CAN DO ANYTHING I WANT TO DO…to be clear, I HAVE to pay my property taxes every quarter so the township does not put a lien on my house, BUT I don’t have to live where I do, I live here because I want to. I HAVE to work so that I can make money to pay my property taxes BUT I work the job I do because it’s something different every day and the views are priceless, and I do what I do because I want to. Her way of seeing the world helped me tweak the way I had lately been seeing mine.
She reinforced my belief that we all are the creators of our lives and have a responsibility to ourselves to do whatever we think we must to “get right.” We must continually assess our masterpieces and adjust accordingly, to be well, to feel well, to “be” right. We can work very hard to create our DREAM only to discover, thankfully sometimes quickly or sorrowfully sometimes much too late, that the people with whom we are sharing our dream don’t find any value in it all, it is not a masterpiece to them whatsoever…and they do things that sabotage, knowingly or not, our creation…do we just give up? do we just accept that somebody stomped on our dream? People can mislead, deceive, delude, lie, stab us in the back, cheat, steal, make us feel like fools, and suck the wonderful out of our lives…if we let them…do we let their choices and actions destruct our masterpieces? do we call it failure and feel like we lost? or do we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, & turn the page and start a new chapter? It’s all a choice. A choice to feel defeated or a choice to feel challenged. Let somebody trudge all over your project or pick up whatever pieces you still have in tact and get busy recreating…it’s up to you… As we grow older we can think somebody rained on our parade, that somebody derailed our plans, BUT the fact of the matter is that quite simply their dream/idea/masterpiece/creation is their own, it just did not or could not synch with ours…their vision did not grok with our vision.
I know people who are stuck… I know people who are stuck in houses they can’t afford or are no longer worth half what they paid. I know people who are stuck in relationships; with marriages that have slipped to the ‘so-so’ or ‘ it’s tolerable’ range from the ‘great & crazy about each other’ zone they once lived in, but with small children or financial obligations and literally can’t afford to break up. I know people who have empty nests and now feel lost without a specific familial role to play, and I know people who can’t wait for the freedom associated with finding their nest empty. I know people who have had to spend their nest egg to live, and I know people who every week of the year think about amassing more of an egg. All of us should be doing whatever we can, to reshape our lives as we can, so that we constantly try to live our masterpiece, whatever it may be and however we envision it.
My granddaughter’s expression of amazement that I could do anything I want reminded me how much I truly believe that we all are creators. Some people really do ANYTHING they want, and some do most of what they want and a little of what they have to, and some do most of what they have to and only a smidgen of what they want to…but so many fail to consider that it’s always an option to DO SOMETHING ELSE, CREATE SOMETHING ELSE…Erase what you wrote, Apologize for what you said, Change your mind, Change your attitude, Leave, Stay, Start over, Pick up where you left off, Kiss and make up, Shake hands and break up, Tear it down, Build it up…WHATEVER…we can spend time feeling good about our choices when they turn out to be right, and beating ourselves up and suffering the consequences when they turn out to be bad, but there is nothing bad at all about creating a life you imagine, and recreating it when your imagination thinks it’s time.