Life is short. We hear it all the time. When we’re young we think it’s only short for old people. Then we get older and don’t always realize that the rule now applies to us. When we’re young we dream a million dreams. We grow older and do our best to make some of them come true. Eventually, we let certain ones fall off the “attainable” list – one’s like “someday I’ll marry George Clooney”. We move on. It’s only natural. Some never leave us. They hang there like bats in a cave. Occasionally they kick us to make sure we’re still breathing.
A few months ago an acquaintance was diagnosed with Lue Gehrig’s disease. I don’t know him well but it’s a small town and we have mutual friends. What I do know is that he is my age, strong, active, artistically inclined, and he surely has some dreams of his own that are rapidly falling off of the “attainable” list.
I took stock of what I had. I took more stock in what I didn’t. My glass is half full, and I want it to overflow. Not so much with the things money can buy, but with the things it can’t. I weeded through all of the unnecessary clutter that my life had accumulated. Anything that drained my time or my energy, that didn’t involve paint or my family, was eliminated. Most of my friends understood. Some didn’t, and that’s OK.
The dreams started kicking a little harder. They were the same old dreams, nothing new. For me, there is no greater freedom than to wake up with no agenda, other than to paint the world as I see it and meet some of the genuine souls that inhabit it. Not only is it freedom, but it is also exhilarating. When I was a younger, single, eager, interested, vibrant girl I traveled all through South East Asia and all through Europe discovering anything and everything available to me. The news of this man’s struggle shut down my patients for dreams on a waitlist. It was time to be vibrant again, in a way that only I could orchestrate. I went online and began to research painting residencies in Italy. One screamed out at me. A small school accepting resident artists for a four-week term, a modest place to live, my own studio, an old hill-top village in an Italian-speaking community, and 3 meals a day. I applied. I was accepted. I leave on Thursday.
I will miss my kids. I will miss my husband. I will have the time of my life.