It’s the last day of 2014, and over the past few days I have been reflecting a lot on the past year. I just finished reading Lena Dunham’s new book, Not That Kind of Girl, in which she recollects on what she’s learned so far as a young woman in her late twenties. I wonder if (and hope) she’ll continue to write memoirs. Because every decade (every year, in fact) we (and by we I mean YOU and ME, all of us) — if we are conscious human beings — learn more and more about what matters in life, about acceptance, about humility, about how to be ourselves and so many other things.
For some context, in two weeks I turn forty seven years old. Here are some things I have learned at forty-six:
1) Not everyone will like me or my work or my process or what I have to say, and that is okay. I am beginning not to care as much, and not because I have any plans to be lazy about kindness or treating others with respect. I realize that usually the reasons people don’t like you or your work have nothing to do with whether you are a kind or good person anyhow.
2) All of that said, I have also learned that, for the most part, most people are good and kind. And it is goodness and kindness that matter most. So I choose to surround myself with good and kind people.
3) I can survive a difficult experience. In 2013, I went through something quite traumatic — the most traumatic in my life, in fact. And it did not destroy me. In fact, I am better for it. What I learned made 2014 much richer in ways I could not have imagined.
4) I like being married. A lot. I am so grateful for marriage equality and what it has done for me and for my gay and lesbian sisters and brothers everywhere.
5) I can’t do it all in my career. Choosing the stuff I like to do the most and the stuff that brings me the most satisfaction (even if it’s not the most lucrative and even if it means I have to say no to prestigious opportunities) is what makes me happiest in the end.
6) That said, I don’t ever want to stop trying new things as an artist, expanding my practice, pushing myself, experimenting, keeping my everyday world exciting and new.
7) Life is not perfect and it will never be. Understanding that has changed me.
8) Showing up everyday and doing the work is what will get you to your goals and dreams as a creative person. Also: success does not happen overnight. Even once opportunities begin to arrive, being an artist/designer/writer/maker continues to be hard work every day, so you must find love in it and be dedicate yourself to enjoying the process or you will be miserable.
9) My unique path as an artist & my work are legitimate and worthwhile. And so are yours.
10) Nothing matters more than the present moment. Worrying keeps us stuck in the future. Lamenting keeps us stuck in the past. Today is for living.
And with that may you truly live every day of 2015.
Happy New Year!