Posted by Pattie on 10/25/2007 07:06:00 AM

My Secret Passion

I'm going to let you in one of my most guarded secrets. This is going to seem silly, but I am 50 years old and this has been something I've wanted most of my life but always felt that I was not worthy. It is a big risk and I give myself a 50/50 chance of deleting this post before I am finished because when I try to describe this desire it always both scares me and it always defies description.

But I think it is time to come out of the closet. I was just diagnosed with a disease that not only kills people on a regular basis, but threatens to disable through nerve damage, amputation and blindness. This has been a big wake-up call. While I plan to do everything possible to keep my blood sugars under control and avoid these devestating results, I am fully aware that sometimes the disease wins anyway (not subscribing to the disease is the fault of the victim).

So my secret passion is visual arts. It isn't that I have avoided doing this. I've taken classes, I included the visual in almost everything I've ever done. I am a published photojournalist. I have created several logos. I have laid-out brochures and other marketing or publicity materials. I just illustrated a book that will be coming out next year. I have done graphics for websites. I have edited several short videos.

I haven't avoided the activities per se. It is that I have avoided identifying with it, calling myself an "artist."

My identity as Writer is comfortable. Writer is scary sometimes because people read you and they critique you. Publishing my memoir and my poetry were a lot tougher than writing articles or web content (or blogs) because they were closer to home, more a part of me.

But art leaves me feeling even more vulnerable. I know how to assess my performance as a writer. I have confidence in my abilities. Frankly, I know I am good. I like accolades, but I don't NEED them to know that I am good. Criticism is considered and often incorporated in what I do, but in the end I can reject it or accept it without feeling fear.

As an artist I am clueless. I am a child. And like a child, I find myself hoping for positive response and feeling devistated when it is absent. This is a feeling that I do not like. I thought I was a risk taker, but somehow, this is a risk I've ran from in the past.

But the clock is ticking and, specifically, my ability to create the visual is under seige. The threat without is overcoming the threat within. I have realized in the past month that I may not have the luxury of avoiding this part of my nature anymore. The time may be now. What I have realized most is that I don't want to die having not explored this. Maybe I'm no good at this. But I need to know. I need to commit to it and find out. I need to say the day after I go blind or lose my ability to use my hands or (maybe) after I die, "Hey, I gave it my all."

I have no idea what that means right now. But I suspect going public is an important first step.