I often tell people who are wondering what next to do with their life/spare time when they’ve come to loathe their current career with every quark (look it up; it’s smaller than atoms) of their being, have become empty nesters, have retired,or what-have you “look to your childhood.”
I ask them to think about what fascinated them in the wonder years, since these usually point to what will fascinate them now, once they rip off the duct-tape of responsible adulthood’s dreary priorities. I used to read a lot, and not a heck of a lot else in the way of leisure pursuits, other than Girl Scouts.
Except for one thing…the ONLY activity that would hold me absolutely spellbound, even to the point of forgetting to eat–and I can tell you this feature was nothing short of cataclysmic–was oil painting. I could stand for hours by the easel, absolutely absorbed in the creative act of picture-making.
I would even absently distribute blotches of paint about my person and clothing, another event that nearly never happened…
I spent a childhood assuming I’d be an artist when I grew up, and that’s how I started college. But along the way I lost my nerve, having no desire to teach, and wondering how the heck I’d make a living. I ended up in civil engineering for reasons that had little to do with interest.
Fast forward a lotta, lotta years. I still do quite a bit of engineering, in the typical waves and spurts of a consultant. Had to burn the midnight oil a lot the last couple months, and tonight I got to burn-out stage. Nothing could induce me to get back and finish the client’s small remaining work, so I thought, “Hmmm, what could I do to break the gridlock?”
I went back to my childhood, and started creating something artistic. Well, what do you know? A few hours of Pinterest pins, and this blog later, and I emerge from my trance to realize an entire evening has slipped away, with me in the zone, and no snacks consumed. It’s just like the old days, with my standup desk instead of an easel. No paint splotches, but no cleanup either, just shut down my dual screen computer and go off to bed with a satisfied smile on my face…