Friday, October 16, 2015

sabbatical epilogue

Sabbatical is over. There was no grand opening. There was no grand revelation. There was no grand book to be shared. I did walk away with one big thing. I met my two greatest critics.

After I got over all the methodical preparation (procrastination) for making the book, I started to make things. And what happens when you start making things? For me, I start judging it.
Sister Corita Kent said that not to critique something while you are making it. But some things are easier said than done. So as I was making, I was having a full on critique session at the same time. There were two critics in the room with me. (Imaginary critics that is.) 

The first critic is the design critic. She looks at my preliminary sketches and says quietly, 
“Oh, is that all? Really? I guess we can’t all be special. At least your trying. But you do know that this is so trite. And juvenile. It’s a bit of a cliche, no?” 
This critic takes no prisoners. I try different strategies. I take risks and try something new.

Then the second critic come in. She is the fierce mother critic. She asks me, 
“Oh, so this is about you, not about the kids you are trying to reach. Of course it’s about you. That’s what self-centered people do, no?” 
I have no place to hide. I find myself trusting the truth of both of these critics. And yet I cannot seem to make anything that pleases either of them. The pain continues.

Then one day I finally realize something. I have to trust myself. Even though the critics are right, they are not helping me by looking over my shoulders. I have to ask them to leave me. Leave me alone for a while. I have to believe that I have good intentions. I have to believe that the process will lead the way. I have to trust my body as it makes marks and chooses colors. I have to trust the book baby as I trust my own son: that they will grow into who they need to in spite of my good intentions, in spite of who I want them to become. Because they are not me and I am not them. I am over the hump. And I run out of time.

So what now. I am still making. I am still writing. In between the slices of time of here and there. Day by day. Little by little. Bit by bit. There is a Korean saying: 티끌 모아 태산. It translate to gather dust to make a mountain. I have a small handful of dust. I am on my way.

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