Many people have visited our house over the last year, and it's hard for any visitor to avoid the stacks of paintings that have accumulated. Only people who like my work ask questions along these lines: "How does it feel to know your paintings are just going out there?"; "But won't you miss them?" or "Do you ever just want to keep them at home?" I take it as a compliment, that so much do these people value what I make, that they start talking about my paintings as if they were children. And I do know what they mean. I've had those nervous-mom type thoughts that usually sound like this: "If I keep this at home it can't embarrass me in public".
But, then I also return the question back to my admirers: Would you really want your kids living with you forever? What about your patients, do they stay in your treatment rooms? Would you stack up in your garage all the devices that you ever engineered? Would you let hum in your cupboards all the systems you organized, all the relationships you smoothed? What about the tests you were able to label with an "A+, Great work", would you keep them in a giant file as evidence that you're a successful teacher? Do you shut all the doors and windows when you play your song? Only if you live in fear.
If I think that maybe THIS work?! Oh, THIS might not actually be good, or THIS may not mean anything, or THIS piece might be my last, then my fists do start clenching; I don't want to share what is weak and limited about myself, and the small amount that I might create with my life.
If I think rather, that THIS work has a speck of meaning, but I have more to uncover, or THIS contains a piece of myself, but I am growing and will have more to offer tomorrow, or THIS has meaning to me and maybe it can connect with someone else too, then I am able to share. When I keep focused on that sense of abundance and grace I have confidence that what I make, and will continue to make, has value in the world.
Our lives are indeed short, but within them our abilities to explore love and other experiences is infinite. That is where my work comes from: from journeying on these endless paths during my very short days. Besides, my garage is very small. If I don't get the paintings out, there's no room for the bikes. And if I let fear be a bedmate, there's no room for the dog and the snuggling children.