“The clock is ticking fast. Burn the candle large.” – Diane Sawyer
I thought I’d be further along in my career as an artist by now. When I was a girl, I dreamed of the fruits of my talent being respected and compensated monetarily. I saved drawings with Cray-pas on Manila paper to make it easier for my biographers after I died. At age 57, I’ve had some measure of success. A painting I did of Oprah hangs in her home and my portrait of Chelsea Clinton was displayed in her mother’s private study when she lived in the White House. What is lacking is the kind of recognition that includes a steady income. Without a husband to support me, I would have thrown in the towel long ago. In retrospect, I’m shocked I didn’t realize how difficult it is to make a living as an artist sooner. That glitch in my perception may well be part of my gift. Surely without that kind of naivety I would have given up long ago.
Last week long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad gave me new hope. She calmed my fears of being washed up. If she can swim from Cuba to Florida at age 64, a feat she failed at 28, surely it’s not over for me. Entering the third act of my life can only give my work more depth. My experiences over time have added a vibrancy to my art that was absent in the struggles of youth. I’m refreshed by Nyad’s assurance, ”Never, ever give up. You’re never too old to chase your dreams.”
No matter how uncomfortable it is, keep stretching, keep believing. Risk is an extension of self-love. If you were born to sing a song, sing it. Whatever gift you were born to give, give it. Live it. It’s no accident we can’t turn back the hands of time. There is a season for everything. The gift you came to share may just have reached its full gestation and is about to be born into the world. And in perfect timing your audience waits…ready to receive it…with open arms.
All text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.