On this, the day of my mother's 54th birthday (and by that I mean the 26th anniversary of her 28th birthday) I wanted to talk a little bit about how I've gained the confidence to live a creative life.
I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to realize this, perhaps it's just that young people are somewhat embarrassed or unwilling to admit that they have actually learned something from their parents, but my mom is by far the most creative person that I know. And I don't mean that in the sense that she's a fabulous painter, or spends all of her time making Pinterest worthy home decor renovations. I mean it in the broader sense that she just does whatever the fuck she wants, because why the hell not?
At the age of 39, my mom decided that she wanted to be a jazz singer. I don't think she had any previous experience as a professional singer, it was just something that she'd always wanted to do. So she took some singing lessons, started performing with other musicians, and eventually released her own jazz album. How effing cool is that?
I think we all get these crazy ideas in our heads that if we haven't started pursuing certain activities while we're young, then they aren't worth pursuing as an adult. Or if something isn't professionally viable, then there's no point in doing it. My mom showed me that this isn't the case at all. I don't think she ever made much money as a jazz singer, she just did it because it made her happy. I've always wanted to be a ballet dancer. I haven't taken a ballet class since I was 5, and now that I'm 25 there's no chance that I will ever be able to dance professionally. But assuming I can scrounge up the money, this fall I plan to attend some adult beginner ballet classes, simply because I think it would make me gloriously happy to do something that I've always wanted to do, even if I am terrible at it. This is how life should be; pursuing activities simply because they bring happiness into your life.
My mom has always been this way, she's been so many different things throughout her life - a singer, a childhood development analyst, a writer, a secretary, a blogger, a photographer - because that's where her interests have lied. Maybe not the secretary so much, but you get where I'm going. She's always pursued paths that have sparked her interest, and has never worried that if she becomes a photographer, then she's no longer a writer, and so on. This approach has given me the confidence to follow whatever paths interest me. And my "failures" don't feel like failures to me, because all I'm doing is testing out ideas that seem intriguing. If they don't work out, then they don't, and at least I've tried, and can move on to pursue one of my many other interests. The only time I would feel like a failure is if I hadn't tried at all. This is what creative living means to me - pursuing what makes you happy, and letting go of the rest.
On a side note, I've teared up about 5 times writing this while thinking about how my mom is going to tear up when she reads this. So happy, tearful birthday mom.