Relatable, Sense of Self
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In Defense of Chutzpah

“If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison

Speaking with a trusted confidante the other day, I spoke about this current desire to access the creative part of me.  I am not sure if its because creative energy is like a dormant volcano and its time has come, or because I am more confident and able to give myself permission to try doing more things again.  I am afraid I like doing lots of little things, but that I do them badly.  They don’t always look the way I want them to, so I just don’t do anything.

In the mid nineties, still living in our family home, I took over the dining table and the lanai with all possible kinds of projects in progress:  clay beads, the beginnings of a simple bust, unglazed pottery, half painted canvases, smeared charcoal drawings, painted pots, colorful paper strips, etc. etc.  I was blessed with parents whose forbearance allowed me to indulge in my whims and express myself however I needed even when my focus and interest would wane here and there. Two girlfriends and I unofficially started a crafty business where we made beads, pushpins, frames, corkboards, and decorated terra cotta pots.  We were bold, we were brave, and we were basically in our early twenties and full of chutzpah.  We sold out of products at little holiday bazaars and even took a special order for an actual business that we didn’t end up charging much for because we weren’t quite sure how to fairly make an invoice.  I don’t know if we ever actually made any money, but it certainly was gratifying- the planning, the creating, the collaborating.. all of it.  Just the best!

I am reminded that anything worth doing is worth doing well, but also that it’s better to do something versus doing nothing at all.  I am to exercise doing what I want to do even if I do it badly.  I am to practice writing badly, painting badly, cooking badly, and drawing badly.  Maybe once I do it badly I will get an idea of what bad really looks like rather than imagining how embarrassed I will be when faced with really undesirable results.  Even now as I write as badly as I can, it’s not so bad.  It’s just the same as if I tried to write well… which is a bit sad…..  so I guess there is no way to go but up?

Over the weekend, boyfriend (and I mean my adorable husband, but when I talk to friends and refer to him, often I call him “boyfriend” for some reason) and I hit the Maira Kalman exhibit downtown, not knowing what to expect.  I am in love.  I have a crush on Maira Kalman.  She is an artist with true wit, whimsy, and fearlessness.  She writes and illustrates, and even though she doesn’t draw conventionally well, she draws-  she just does it- and she always gets her point across.  To me, she is accessible.  I feel like I get her, and that if she knew me, she’d get me.  She likes life.  She likes people.  She’s not afraid of things, nor cynical, she just does what she wants to do, writes what she likes, whether it is about war, death, dogs, or the kitchen sink, but in a way that makes the reader/ viewer think that she is coming from a positive place, versus a very aggressive, alienating “f*#k you if you don’t like what I do, because I couldn’t give two sh*%s about you” attitude, (one which I find extremely unappealing in people, by the way).  She seems fearless without a complete disregard of others, since she seems to actually be happy about the world, even though she hopes to help make it better than it is.

At what age was I when I had the most chutzpah?  Was I young girl then?  Or have I not even gotten there yet.  I think for my birthday I will wish for more chutzpah.  That and a used old library copy of “The Principles of Uncertainty”.

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