One of my clearest early memories from childhood is of trying to climb up on a monstrously huge chair in my grandparent's home. I'd somehow manage to get one of my chubby toddler knees up on the edge of the its seat and then, after numerous tries, insert my fingers into one of the many tufts on its arms and slowly pull the rest of my little body up high enough to get another chubby knee on the seat. I'd eventually establish myself there properly, immensely proud of conquering what seemed like Mt. Everest to my child's mind.
Years later, visiting my parents, I asked my mom about "that HUGE chair". She pointed to a small, tufted chair in the corner of their library. It wasn't at all what I remembered...
When I was six years old and my sister nine, she showed me a crayon drawing of a horse she had done. I distinctly remember thinking that it was truly the most perfect drawing of a horse either of us had ever seen - it look soooo real! I looked at it in amazement and then said, "It looks really great right now, but in a few years it won't."
I have no idea how I knew that, but it was true. In a few years it looked like a child's drawing of a horse. But then... Wow!
As we grow and change, so does our perspective. Chairs that were once enormous become, as if by magic, petite. Drawings that seemed photorealistic are transformed into primitive and awkward expressions of reality.
I try to keep that in mind as I work in the studio.
I think it's important to revisit old work. I want to see what I can glean from remembering how I felt when I created it. Does it still speak to me in the same way? Have I grown beyond it? Is there something left in the idea that might enhance the work I'm doing presently? Is it a sentinel that points me in a new direction entirely?
I also try to keep it in mind as I wend my way through the the world outside my studio - a world that seems an increasingly bizarre and foreign place. It's a challenge to not feel panicky because right now we are in the midst of all the chaos.
But time will pass, things will level out, and, hopefully, our perspective on our present angst will change enough to allow us to learn from it. And maybe, just maybe, our new perspective will grant us a clearer, kinder, and more compassionate understanding of what our purpose is for being here with one another.
In an ant's house, the dew is a flood. - Chinese Proverb