Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Perchance to dream
I'm being encouraged to think about people in my life who have inspired me to follow my dreams. People who have taken risks in order to follow the path that was theirs alone.
In many ways I am quite risk averse, and I feel I need to start exploring this by acknowledging that I grew up in a safe and loving home, with parents who supported me in all my academic and creative endeavours. They ferried me backwards and forwards to ballet classes, piano lessons, school play rehearsals. They celebrated my successes and were my greatest cheersquad when my doubts got overwhelming.
In terms of my professional life, they were mixed role models. On the one hand, they worked in altruistic professions (education, health) and they worked HARD. They were committed to the bigger goals of their respective institutions, and never lost sight of their top priorities i.e. the wellbeing of students/patients despite the political battles raging around them.
The flip side of this was that they took it all very seriously, sometimes to the detriment of their health. They often "brought work home", often literally but more frequently metaphorically. They were committed to sticking it out, partly because of their altruism, partly because of the security that "working for the man" provided. They have never been appropriately recognised and celebrated for their efforts.
My parents migrated to Australia with virtually nothing. They established a home, a family, their careers. Through sheer hard work and sacrifice. And love.
My sister and I have inherited a strong work ethic that has seen us gain recognition and reward in our professional and creative lives (my sister is a very talented musician). We are committed, loyal and hardworking. But we have often stuck things out until they were way past redemption, despite the costs to our physical and emotional wellbeing. We take our day jobs WAY too seriously, and we always take our feelings about work home with us. Fear of taking the risk and forfeiting the security of "working for the man" has been very strongly ingrained.
This is why my return to work part time, my starting this blog, and my tentative steps towards calling myself a writer and an artist are such big steps for me. I may never be able to support myself in any of these endeavours and I am the luckiest girl in the universe to have a husband to fall back on. (And, very quietly, I wonder if my having a baby has legitimised my stepping out of the rat race for my parents and colleagues in a way that pursuing my creative endeavours couldn't.) And maybe I'll never stop "working for the man" in some capacity. I'm pretty attached to my financial independence. And doing good work for other people does make me happy. It's just not my life anymore.
My earliest and greatest inspiration for exploring this brave new world was SARK. I chanced across her book Succulent Wild Woman at a time when I was feeling very small, misunderstood and unloveable. SARK's raw and glorious words showed me how important it was to celebrate my imperfect self -- the self that was burnt out, bored and worried -- and to share my stories with others. Thanks to SARK I started journalling ten years ago, and now have many books with passionate illegible scribbles to show for it! The risks that SARK continues to take in her art, her business, her family and friendships, and her love relationships continue to inspire and enrich me on a daily basis.
I should also mention that it was through SARK that I came to know of Andrea Scher's Superhero journal. I have been reading Andrea's blog virtually since it started, and it bears witness to a succulent, wild woman in every single entry. I have gained so much from being part of the Superhero journey
Both SARK and Andrea have shown me that WHO I AM so much more than WHAT I DO for a living. I love the way that Mondo Beyondo gives me the space to imagine, to play, and to test both who I am and what I do to the absolute limit. I look forward to surprising myself in the process.