With retirement came quarantine. Friends and coworkers stated my timing was impeccable but I am ambivalent. Not particularly keen on reinventing myself, I had wanted to continue contributing to the world of education in some capacity. I also wanted to pursue my passion for art and literature – master the techniques of loose watercolor, explore the richness of oil colors, improve my perspective in drawing, and reread the classics in literature. Travel was definitely on my radar, too. Of course, travel never materialized and with traditional schools shutting doors and classroom teachers going online, the world of education was turned on its head. An understatement.
So I immersed myself in art and reading as if there was no tomorrow. Six months into it, I see no end in sight. Ambivalence has turned to commitment and I’m devoting this artwork and writing to celebrate the cards I was dealt. My passion for art was waiting for the luxury of time and with suddenly nothing but time on hand, all I needed was the impetus to begin. I took to experimenting with color and medium, and attending art demonstrations to observe how accomplished individuals in different art forms approached their work. With hundreds of pieces in the trashcan and gallons of pigment washed away, I have some brush mileage to my name.
I also dusted the jackets off of my big anthologies. Rereading Shakespeare and Milton has brought new light to the understanding of universal themes. Anne of Green Gables and A Suitable Boy have resurfaced the simplicity of past lives and embedded cultural beliefs that shape our thoughts. A Wolf Called Romeo has furthered my understanding of journalistic writing and the passions people pursue within their realms of interest.
As my own worst critic, I did not see beauty in my artwork or cadence in my words. I have heard other artists and writers express similar sentiments and it has taken totus viribus to reconcile that not everything I produce deserves to be tossed in the rubbish bin. Though not easy, the action of moving forward requires a level of vulnerability which, I believe, comes with the resolve to remain a learner. There is no playbook to navigate a new field especially when the gray hairs on my head make me famously believe that I have a lifetime of experience and hence should know. But I have inimitably realized that all one needs is a good friend, a few honest critics, and the credo to face the double-edged sword of isolation.
I’m ready to celebrate – to raise a toast to everyone in isolation who has stoically weathered the uncertainties of the day and is not only moving ahead personally, but helping the children and youth around them to make sense of the changes that have altered their reality. No matter the time or place, celebrations signify hope. They are a catalyst for bringing people together and an impetus to plan and prepare in anticipation of creating and capturing memories. I cannot deny that I have lamented the loss of social interaction and the joys of “unmasked” freedom but I am choosing to celebrate. Hoping that the veil of uncertainty lifts in the near future and life returns to the normal we knew - friends coming over, acquaintances sharing wifi and a chat at a coffee shop, dining out, going to parks and museums, attending arts or sporting events or just plain hanging out – all anticipated.
“The Toast” is raised in watercolor on tinted paper with titanium white to reflect for us what was and what is to come!