Becoming ourselves, our legacy

1

I woke up, let Whiskey out, patted my Sweet Al on the head, then hit the button on the Keurig as I pondered my next article.
How do we move beyond ourselves, especially when it seems like we are always running in random circles? How many times have we said, “Well, that didn’t get me to where I thought I was headed.”
Curious about what our plans and God’s steps reveal about us in legacy, I asked my Sweet Al, “How did we end up here?”
He romanticized our journey back in 1965. “It started when we lived in Las Cruces. Remember when we pulled our camper to Pagosa to camp on our property with our firstborn?”
Bringing clarity to his romance, I said “Yes. I also remember when we decided to build and move to Pagosa years later pulling a 13-foot trailer and four kids in tow.”
Somewhere between Al’s Hallmark moment and my less sympathetic view of reality, I think I was just looking to know if there was some greater plan that we were following. Something that allowed us to live in a way that yielded lasting results.
For 40 years I wandered around the art arena as a painter, teacher and gallery owner. My art has been sold on the wholesale market and even sailed the seven seas on a cruise line. I take great pride knowing my work has been used to add color and story to homes and offices across the U.S. and internationally. And to think, all of that happened as I busied myself on the Lower Blanco, painting and creating while my work went out to places I may never know.
I have certainly taken a few turns and detours along my journey. I even had to jump a few ditches, but I never took any shortcuts. I’ve walked every inch of every mile of this crazy adventure. I remise that I likely walked around the same mountain a time or two. But equally, walked knowing how many pairs of shoes I wore out along the way. There is something to be said for exercising our faith as we seek knowledge and direction.
Several years ago, I produced an online watercolor workshop titled “Footprints in Paint.” I had the opportunity to teach and critique art students who all seemed to be walking a similar path. The promotional material included a graphic that looked like I had stepped barefoot in a bucket of red paint then walked a labyrinth across the paper. Through the insanity of it all, I take comfort knowing there are others who feel like they have also walked in circles.
The linear mind probably sees this as disconcerting, crazy and even all over the place. Contrary to normal, artists understand this way of living and always moving with the next idea and project, hoping it will all pay off one day.
Today, I’m not painting but writing a fictional collection. I’ve just finished book three of four in my Sangre de Cristo Mountains Series, to be released in July. The series is about an international art heist that takes you from Santa Fe, N.M., to Europe and back. Next, I’ll turn my attention to southern Colorado, more specifically, Archuleta and Conejos counties.
My desire to write books was born after I started writing “Truman Show” style articles for The SUN newspaper. It leaves me with only one question in my mind: “What random circle am I chasing around now?”
Final brushstroke: It’s not just artists or writers who feel like they are running around and around. I think all of us feel that way at one time or another. From the camper to the over-packed 13-foot trailer, to the paint brush that became a pencil, there has been an unseen hand that has pushed me to where I find myself. As we live by faith, these random circles start to take shape just as a connect the dots creates a picture. It is there that we find it impossible to move beyond ourselves, rather becoming the person we are meant to be, letting that speak of itself, our legacy.
Readers’ comments
J.D from Oklahoma writes, “Good morning Betty, Loved the article. ‘Carrying the spirit of the child.’ The older we get the more appreciative we become of the little things. We realize nothing is forever, so we embrace each moment of every day and find little ways to make them special. As young adults, we believed every moment needed to be packed full of adventure and big accomplishments. To settle for less was not acceptable. But now we understand and appreciate the little things and special moments we were too busy to notice as we carved out a career and raised a family. God is so wise and good to allow us this time in our life for reflection, peace and relaxation. It is the gift of life, pressed down, full and running over!”
Send your comments to betty@bettyslade.com