What's Up With That?

Miriam Rothschild was a British heiress who grew up with gobs of money.  But, get this: she didn’t attend school until she was 17 and never earned a degree.  By the time of her death she was an internationally famous expert known for her groundbreaking discoveries about…bugs.

Granted she had an abundance of resources, being an heiress and all. But an interviewer once asked her, “How did you decide on insects?” Her answer? “I just thought they were interesting.”

Wait. What? That’s it? That’s all?  No thunderous voice from heaven booming “YOU MUST FOLLOW THIS PATH.”  No fiery passion in the belly?  Nope. Just “interesting”. Her answer is more common than you might guess, when it comes to following a rewarding path in life.

As an artist, you see mundane objects & situations and think, ‘what’s up with that?’ which is the first step in “The Scientific Method.”  No clue why scientists got dibs on naming it. So, let’s re-name it, “The Creative Process.”

Whatever you call it, the first step of discovery starts with your attention being gently pulled toward something. Then you fiddle with it and start thinking, “What if…?” As toddlers, we’d eyeball something, grab it, taste it, then jam it up our nose. As adults we skip the ER visits and process our discoveries in less painful ways.  Ever hear of Evelyn Glennie?  Fascinating woman.  She is a famous percussionist – and she’s deaf. I invite you to watch her explore her world as a deaf musician:

These two women came to their crafts through unconventional routes.  But both started with “Interesting…”

Bottom line: we don’t have be on fire with a “passion” – something that captivates us so powerfully it changes the course of our lives. (But they do make the best Hollywood stories.)  Most of us have interests which remain a steady hum in our guts no matter what our education or circumstances.  So, let’s stop waiting for that big bang of inspiration or just the right circumstances to start exploring those things which quietly snag our interest.

*Jena Johnson is a Portland native, an academic late-bloomer and has been called ‘an art enabler.’ A title she embraces with some pride, by the way.

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