Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thank you, Barcelona

Jeffrey and I were fortunate enough to spend 8 days in Barcelona. The city is amazing. It's completely full of art, without being self-conscious or fussy. It transformed me.

This trip was the first time I really enjoyed the museums we went to: the Contemporary Museum of Art, the Dali museum in Figueures, a Joan Miro museum, and a Gaudi museum. I think what really affected me so deeply is how distinctive -- and loud -- each artist's voice was. It struck me as incredibly courageous. I'd given up on art as a young child. In our family, we had a talented artist, and then a slightly less-talented artist. And neither of those spots fell to me. So I gave up. 

My sister is 2 years older than me, and very smart. But I was precocious, and maybe slightly better than her at Chinese Chess and a few other things, and no doubt shitty about it, so she sort of gave up on it. To this day she still underestimates herself and her intelligence, and I know it's my fault. It weighs on me.

So here I was surrounded by all this art, wondering if I had done the same thing to myself; abdicated any artistic inclination simply because I wouldn't be the best at it. And not even that I wouldn't be the best at it, but that I wouldn't be any good at it at all. It struck me as a remarkably cowardly way to live.

No matter how I earn a living, I have been and will always be an editor. I edit myself constantly, afraid to say or write or do the wrong thing. And long ago, I edited art right out of myself. But what I realized is that I must accept the possibility -- even the certainty -- of mediocrity. I think that until I do, it's impossible for me to fully accept who I am. My 20s were spent getting better at things I was already good at. I hope my 30s are spent doing things I'm terrible at.


Jill said...

Such wisdom, my dear. Some of us become so intensely afraid of what might be born of our endeavors that we won't conceive them at all. I know that I am very guilty of this. Here's to another 5+ years of just loving the journey of exploring interests, even if we have to embrace the concept of being mediocre.

jleica said...

Bravo. Lovely thoughts here.