Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Dichotomy of Life

cover photo from the portfolio I created for my application to NSCAD University
I am thrilled. I am scared. I am ready.

Recently, I had to write a one page essay and those were the words I ended with. Those words could be applied to any kind of new challenge in our lives, don't you think?  No matter what new activity or project or life experience, I believe that a lot of people would agree to having mixed feelings. 

Excitement about the opportunity. Wow, I can't believe this is happening to me! 

Fear about the unknown. I don't know all the answers or if I can do this!

Ready to try. I might be ready to dive in, or sometimes drag my feet, but I'm willing to give it a go.

Not many things are all good, or all bad. Usually joy and frustration go together
hand in hand, joined on this path of life we all walk along. It's the dichotomy that makes things interesting for us, albeit sometimes it's hard to see why we have to take the bad along with the good.

A baby taking his first steps will be nervous about letting go and standing upright instead of crawling, but he'll feel the excitement of his achievements and glory in the praise of his loved ones. Even one step is a huge success.

A teenager trying to decide on what path she'll take after high school will be nervous about making her choices, but she'll feel excited about all her opportunities.

A young couple will discover they are about to start a family and will be thrilled about becoming parents, but perhaps nervous about all the responsibility.

And life goes on. We face new challenges, some small and some large. We take one step forward and two steps back. We cry and we laugh and we carry on.

The fear factor can be applied to our hobbies as well. I've been taking photographs for many years, and joined a local photo club about eight years ago. Enjoying my own images and sharing them with other people are two completely different things. Entering photographs into club competitions can be intimidating, but it's important to receive unbiased feedback in order to grow our skills. Online "likes" from family and friends on facebook are good ego boosters, but they don't count as constructive suggestions on how to grow and improve. Competitions, instructional courses, and juried exhibitions are all ways that photographers and other hobbyists can increase their skills.

Last year, I stepped out of my comfort zone and started participating in different photography and writing challenges. I submitted an article to a magazine, and I wasn't accepted. But the editor checked out my photographs and I ended up having one of my images published. My images were turned down for a book compilation, but accepted for a gallery exhibit in Dartmouth. I have written a short story and submitted it to the CBC Non Fiction Literary Competition. I won't know the results until later this year, but I consider it a mark in my personal success column because I actually hit the "send" button once it was completed. I sent it off into the world instead of keeping it to myself, and that's a big achievement for me. Sometimes it's difficult to overcome a fear of failure, but the biggest reward is knowing that we have tried.
pictured with my granddaughter on Portfolio Day at NSCAD University
Four years ago, I attended a tour of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University with my son who was considering going to art school. I was so excited about the tour that I went to an art supply store to purchase a sketch book before we headed home. As it so often happens, I got sidetracked by life. A few weeks ago, I took another tour of NSCAD, this time with my granddaughter who is future planning for decisions she'll be making a couple of years from now. I spent the tour envisioning myself as one of the young people planning for a future. I got home and started wondering, why exactly was I lamenting not being young with a future ahead of me? I am not young, but I have a future and I still have dreams. I talked to my husband, put together a portfolio, and sent in my application.

I received a phone call and I've been accepted as an art student at NSCAD. I'm 55 years old and am going back to school. Even retired people need something to focus on. And that brings me back to the opening lines for this article:

I am thrilled. I am scared. I am ready.

Published in the South Shore Breaker -  March 22, 2017. 

1 comment:

It's great to hear from you! I appreciate your comments.