Reckoning With Reality
Smiler asked me a simple question: “Why the past tense Jonas? Do you not paint anymore?”
The question was simple enough. The answer? Rather complicated.
I pondered the question as I pedaled for hours against a gusty west wind. I pondered the question as I cooked my dinner. I pondered this question all day long.
The answer? There’s more than one.
I think back on my youth and all my creative endeavors. I taught myself how to paint with oils, dedicating long hours to brushes and palette knives, turpentine, tinctures and linseed oil. I hungered to learn the craft, to learn if I, too, could be a painter. I mastered the techniques.
And discovered I was no artist.
I wrote “poetry” in great volume. Discovered I was no poet.
I beat on drums, but realized I was never destined to be a drummer.
I devoted myself to a great many undertakings. In so doing, I discovered my limitations and true talents.
It wasn’t my destiny to be an artist, a poet or a musician.
What I did well was marshal resources to clean up hazardous waste sites.
I discovered I could manage people and budgets to achieve goals that differed greatly from those I had once envisioned for myself. Despite my cherished, youthful dreams, there is something to be said for cleaner water and less-toxic soils (for others, mostly).
I discovered my true talents and, in so doing, suffered a great deal of personal regret...while enjoying a significant measure of satisfaction.
* * *
Then there is the matter of Time.
There was a time when my energy was boundless. There was a time when I was young, when crackled within me more energy than that of a nuclear reactor.
I faintly recall those days. I marvel they ever existed.
I’m a seventh-decade denizen. My body? As stalwart as it has been, it’s now held together by baling wire and bubble gum. The fires that once burned so fiercely and so bright have morphed to embers.
That’s simply the way Life is. I thought myself immortal...once. I know better now.
* * *
And, finally, there’s this:
I no longer seek fame or fortune, conquest or glory.
I content myself with simple meals, simple pleasures and modest explorations of the world around me.
Nowadays, I seek to appreciate more than I hunger to achieve.
And so it is that I have come full circle. While I once aspired to be all and do all, I’ve come to deeply appreciate those who have truly achieved mastery within my diverse fields of dreams. I’ve dabbled enough in so many things to understand just how difficult it is to master...anything.
Our lives are what they are. Too short, too constrained, too demanding, too tiring, too...limited.
It’s been an amazing experience.
* * *