“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ~Rumi
Daily Prompt: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? What are you now? Are the two connected?
Art class was one of the things I loved most about elementary school, a close runner-up to reading everything I could get my hands on and making up long and involved (very loosely based on reality) stories of my own. I remember the day our teacher gave us big blank pieces of art paper and told us to paint a picture which illustrated the answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
In my short little life so far I had been asked that question about a billion times and was really sick of the people pleasing answers I felt compelled to come up with in response to it. I usually said whatever I thought was most likely to get the adult harassing me to smile and nod and then go away and pick on somebody else. It was my experience that grown ups really didn’t care what you wanted to be when you grew up, it was just a thing they asked kids when they couldn’t think of anything else to say.
This art assignment was less structured than normal, almost like being asked to paint whatever popped into our heads. So here’s what popped into mine.
I painted a stage across the bottom and a beautiful sparkly gossamer curtain across the back with lines and lines of flowing folds. On the stage stood a beautiful blonde woman in a gorgeous white evening gown which looked like a wedding dress without the veil. So I added a couple of gigantic red roses and a bow for clarification. In her hands she held a microphone attached to a long black cord that coiled off to one side and out of the picture. This was back in the day when microphones could be taken off their stands allowing performers to walk around trying not to get tangled up in a bunch of wires. The lady’s eyes were closed and her mouth was a big round red O taking up half her face. There were musical notes floating around above her head. It was a beautiful picture and I was incredibly proud of it. Because that was going to me – drop dead gorgeous, blonde, dressed to kill and singing my heart out on the Ed Sullivan Show.
So how did that work out for me? Actually, not well. I can’t sing. I don’t look so great with blond hair – tried it once and didn’t have any more fun than I’d had as a brunette. Never in my life have I owned or felt the urge to purchase such elaborate formal wear. Or one of those big poufy wedding dresses either. Red lipstick makes me look weird. I have never used a microphone or done anything on a stage where I was the center of attention unless you count being handed a diploma. And Ed Sullivan died before I could be discovered. If he was alive today he’d still be waiting.
Today I work in the medical field and wear a lab coat at work every day. Hey – it’s white! So that part of my vision of the future was bang on. The rest, not so much. Even as the picture took form all those years ago I’m sure I knew it was just a silly dream and simply an excuse to paint a beautiful lady in a stunning dress.
I try to make a point of never, ever, asking a young child what they want to do with their lives. How can they possibly know? What a kid does know is what’s fun, what makes them laugh the hardest, what games they like to play, which books are the best to read. They’ve got years and years to live and so many things to experience and even then their life work decisions may never be carved in stone.
Now I’d answer the question by saying simply that I just want to be happy. There’s time enough to discover all the ways there are to make that happen.