By Linda Fippin, President of the Board of Trustees
A few weeks ago, Reverend Carol gave a sermon about personal visions, and I’ve been turning it over in my mind ever since and thinking about how visions fall by the wayside.
How often have you looked back at some earlier point in your life and said to yourself, “I thought back then that I was too old to [insert vision here], but, really, I probably could have.” Maybe this would be a good time to think about whether you have a vision right now that you are pushing aside because you think you are too old or too busy or too financially strapped or too afraid of what people will think or some other “yeah, but.” And maybe some of those “yeah, buts” are valid. Sometimes there are genuine limitations, after all. You might want to learn to fly a plane, but that won’t be possible if your eyesight is really poor. The point is that we too often give up on our visions without even trying.
Personally, I feel sad that it is often our creative or artistic visions that get left in the dust of practicality. Visual arts and music are minimized in K-12 education in service of preparation for standardized testing. Students headed for college are strongly urged to pursue degrees in STEM, healthcare, business or other “practical” subjects that will lead to well-paying careers. And then the demands of those careers, along with those of raising families, fill our lives to the brim. There seems to be no room for visions of writing poetry or fiction; drawing, painting or sculpture; playing a musical instrument or writing songs. Then when the demands on our time ease, we think it’s too late to pursue our creative or artistic impulses – to which I say, “Hogwash!” There has never been a time when it has been so easy to access instruction in almost any area of artistic endeavor you might choose. If there is creative activity you want to learn, there are almost certainly multiple YouTubers teaching it, not to mention Facebook groups, websites and on-line courses.
Westside is also a place that provides opportunities for our members and friends to stretch their creative muscles. Our Poetry Writing group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 1:00 pm and welcomes you to a friendly and low-stress place to share your poetry, hear poems shared by others and support and learn from each other. We also offer Westside Arts and Crafts, which meets from noon to 2:00 pm on the first Saturday of each month. Attendees bring projects to work on, such as making jewelry, knitting, watercolor painting and more. Practitioners of all arts and crafts are welcome as are those who are just getting started. In both of these groups, you will find people willing and eager to share their knowledge and to learn from others.
Creative practices are good for you. They encourage you to use your brain in ways that are different from day-to-day routine and develop skills that may be useful in unexpected ways. You will probably not become a successful writer or artist, (I say probably because Toni Morrison published her first book at age 40 and Grandma Moses didn’t start painting seriously until age 78), but you will probably have fun and the satisfaction of not abandoning a vision of yourself as an artist. So if you have that creative impulse, go for it.