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What’s the point?

Mary Liz Ingram —  April 28, 2013 — 3 Comments

“Ah, ignore me. I’ve got a touch of existential flu”  –Inspector Lewis, “Soul of Genius”

Every now and then I have a bout of artists angst.

The Point, original photographyMy creations seem worthless, foolish, juvenile attempts. I ponder questions of the meaning of life, of my daily doings. I wonder internally and externally “What’s the point of it all?”

After purposed distraction away from my “existential flu,” I am able to reflect upon firmer footing. I hear quiet, in-progress answers.

The point of art, of “platform-building,” of more Twitter followers, more Facebook likes, more blog subscribers, art shows…well, of everything really…the point of it all is to share.

At least to me, at least today.

Sometimes our efforts are directed toward success: fame and fortune. Probably not gonna happen. I honestly can’t name a single “famous” living artist. I can name successful, well-known local artists, or respected artists in this particular group or that. But an overarchingly world-famous modern day artist? Not your household name.

Hoping for posthumous fame? It could happen…but why strive only for such a slim, seriously almost impossibly slim, chance? Not my goal… (I mean, hey, if I turn out to be amazing and take the world of art by storm, and am remembered throughout future history, I won’t complain).

Fortune? I sell art  in a satisfying amount, at what I hope are reasonable, accessible prices… Not seeking my fortune.  (yes, I have a day job, as most artists do…)

At this point in my life, the point of my strivings are to collect and share.

To collect pieces of beauty, depth, purpose; to evoke memories, some form ofgoodness, to encourage reflection and change, to share truths small and large as I find them.

It may sound mushy; “sentimental hogwash,” if you will. But I think it is a worthy endeavor.

I think this “point of it all” can be applied everywhere in life. To share what we can with our fellow beings. To share support with those who need it, to foster environments of safety & respite where it is lacking. To share peace & beauty when things seem dim, to share some sort of goodness in a world that holds on to much pain. To share a presence and an understanding that life is not easy, and you are not alone.

“We’re all in this thing together
Walkin’ the line between faith and fear
This life don’t last forever
When you cry I taste the salt in your tears”
-Old Crow Medicine Show

It seems to be a normal part of life that days never proceed as planned.

Office PrankI’m a planner…a list-maker extraordinaire. At work, I’m known for my broad use of sticky notes, so much so that the other day I found my office covered in notes, a joke from a supportive friend and coworker.

My expectations are so regularly thwarted by the not-unwelcome interference of life in family and community, that I’m slowly learning to relax and enjoy each moment as it comes, whether its on my list or a curve ball from left field.

As an artist with a “day job” and young family, art usually must take a back seat. I don’t have as much time as I used to for reflective, (I won’t even try to say uninterrupted) creativity. When I encounter a long stretch without creating, my mood definitely drops and I have to find a moment for at least a quick sketch.

My baby girl is about to turn one year old; my son will be starting kindergarten at elementary school in August; my 1st grade daughter has lost four teeth and can write her own stories; I’ve been married almost 11 years to my wonderful husband. Those busy days that usurp my sticky-noted lists are bearable-and enjoyable- because I know how fast time flies.

One morning before school, an amazing teacher and friend spoke in tearful reflection about her youngest daughter in her last year of high school. She shared some very wise, yet simple words that have settled and taken root in my heart:

“I look back on when my kids were young and realize it didn’t matter if my house was clean. Time with them has gone by so fast.”

I think of those words and that emotion often. When I get frustrated by my derailed plans, or my crumby table, or the mountain of laundry, I look at my family, at the trees, at my hands, and remember that life comes as a gift to us, one day at a time.

If I don’t relish life as much as I can, as each moment passes, it seems to pass like water through my fingers.

I am thankful for this day and all that it brings; may my eyes be open to its moments, and my breath be deep enough to absorb the minutes and make them count.

“Always remember that the future comes one day at a time.” -Dean Acheson

Making a List

Making a List, charcoal and conte sketch on paper

It was a few weeks ago, I was driving with the flow of before-work traffic, sipping my blessedly fragrant coffee out of my travel mug and listening to NPR, while my son counted repeatedly to 100 and my baby threw her toys around. I heard snippets of an interview with Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. Between listening to counting, stopping and going down the highway, and planning for the day ahead, one piece stayed with me: Sandberg’s favorite workplace poster: “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?”

That got me to thinking. Mary Liz, what WOULD you do if you weren’t afraid? That half-answered and waiting question floats in and out of my head from time to time.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid…

I would stand up for what is right, for what I believe is good and true. I would take action when opportunity arises to make the world a better place.

I would do these things in spite of fear of what others would think, who would disagree, who might think of my beliefs with distaste, or question me. If I were not afraid, I would be a better person, I think.

So I’m going to try to take steps as they come, to do more good with less fear. I’m sure the lesson should be much deeper, the deeds greater, but you have to start somewhere.

So I start here. I support and want to encourage equality among people…we are all human, we all feel love and hate, sadness and joy; we are a mixed up lot and disagree so much because we are all unique. But no matter our circumstance, we are in this together, in flesh and blood, living and breathing. We all have a story, half-hidden, so do not judge; I won’t judge you.

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is in the midst of a great struggle.” -Plato

Marriage Equality, 3x3 pastel on card

Marriage Equality, 3×3 pastel on card

I Will Light Candles…

Morning Vigil, 6x12" pastel on card

Morning Vigil, 6×12″ pastel on card

Candles of joy, despite all sadness,

Candles of hope where despair keeps watch.

Candles of courage where fear is ever present,

Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,

Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens.

Candles of love to inspire all my living.

Candles that will burn all the year long.

-Howard Thurman

Sunday thoughts…

Mini Picasso

marylizingramart —  October 23, 2012 — Leave a comment

My husband just returned from Richmond and, as usual, brought the kids a “prize” from his trip. This time, I got a prize too! A magnetic Picasso finger puppet. Words can’t describe how hilarious and amazing I think this little thing is. It cracks me up, and he is already my friend. I’m trying to decide if I should take him to work, to give me inspiration and a good laugh, or to leave him in my art room to watch me draw. I have to ask, “Who makes these things?!” but the thought that follows is, “This is AWESOME!!!” A few Picasso quotes to stir your thoughts: Continue Reading…