When the Small Becomes Big and the Big Becomes Small

Large frigate, small balanced stones, Warrior Point, Patricia Bay, Vancouver Island

My summer has been spent mostly away from the computer trying to achieve some kind of focus both physical and emotional. Is my career at risk from a growing collection of age-related issues I can’t ignore? What if there isn’t anymore time? My eyes don’t work right now due to ripened cataracts and double vision and surgery for them is imminent. In a very busy summer of constant family chaos I am desperate to return to my interior world. The inciting incident of my personal story is impending eye surgery.

This was intended to be a fun photo on a quiet walk on a deserted beach at 6 AM on a summer morning. The house still quiet as our many summer guests lie asleep. Now, looking at this photo again I see it as a metaphor for my life. Not just right now, but for always.

I write about protagonists who make choices because an incident incites them to act. Sometimes their needs are like that ship (in reality the size of an apartment block) anchored between four giant watery pylons. The frigate looks small enough to be a bathtub toy yet is so out of reach at the moment. Ah, but is it? People reach for the moon and walk there because of desire. We are the protagonists of our own lives.

I write about reality and illusion and here all of a sudden was a metaphor I could understand. Here lay the ship of story and in front of it a beautiful construct of the unexpected. Sculptures of stones on a big rock that diverted my attention into creating a picture of them. This thing of strange big and small diverted me from my worries and then became a metaphor for them.

I’m not the kind of person to be public about my worries, yet I have to talk about this here. Why? Because as artists and creators we all share the same desire to create. We all share knowledge of the pebbles that turn our ankles. When situations arise that threaten our desires there’s a kind of panic.

I’ve been a story teller as long as I can remember and I can remember back to when I was two years old and still sleeping in a crib without a pillow. My way to negotiate life was to tell stories by looking hard at the world and create my own situations. To alleviate my fear of not being understood and not being heard I lived in a world of my own creation.

This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve faced dilemmas that seem overwhelming. As a child it seemed I had no control of my life at all and my choices were made for me. Not the first time I’ve felt trapped by the unexpected and managed to weave a path out by building story. Building story amid the unexpected has kept me more or less sane. I know so many artists who have stayed responsible to their vision through their creation no matter what. It’s so hard to separate what I write from who I am.

Yes I’m aging. This I cannot control. What I can control is what I write and when.

Me worrying doesn’t take away tomorrows troubles, it takes away today’s peace. And when the troubles of today stack up like inukshuks and take away today’s peace I have to make choices to accept them or not. I learned this early when it seemed I had no choices at all.

Even then I did have a choice though didn’t understand that I did. I told stories, long before I could write them down. That huge frigate sailed in my bathtub. Nobody could remove these choices from my mind and those choices and those realizations made me who I am traveling into and out of my own days of Mordor. I now know as long as my wits are still keen I can make sense of my life through story.

I’ve taught workshops and art classes and helped young people everywhere to see that what they have is now. At age two I instinctively understood that story and art and metaphor could help me make sense of my own dilemmas.

In my case now, yearning for the youth I no longer have is a waste of the time I still have. I still have eyes on that frigate. I can name those little stones and play with them in my hands and create new constructs out of old. I can play with illusions and make them real. So can you.

Never let your fears overwhelm your dreams. Whatever is holding you back, see it, name it and keep dreaming and building. Never feel guilty if you get diverted by issues at work or issues with family, health problems or loss. These are not to be ignored. The big and the small are really one and the same, they are you in your infinite number of possibility. They create you, the protagonist of your life and they give you the chance to make choices and yes, make mistakes.

Believe in your possibility because that possibility is built on both pebbles and frigates.

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