A friend of mine just did something incredible and exciting and gutsy and more inspiring than anything I’ve seen in a long time – she opened her first art show. This may not sound especially remarkable, but in this particular instance it is. Like me, she was a long-time county employee. But for her that changed – abruptly – one day about eight months ago. But rather than wallow in self-pity at the shift in her circumstances, she threw herself into her art, which until that point had only been a hobby. A few short months later, the end result (photographs of flowers that are so saturated with color, the paint she utilizes practically drips from the frame) is hanging in a local gallery, on display for the whole town to enjoy for the duration of the holiday season. I attended the reception on Friday because of course I wanted to see her photos, but also because I wanted to tell her how marvelously inspired I was by her. She’d had a traditional 9-5 career…until she didn’t. She had invested years of her life in that career and she excelled at it. But when given this new opportunity, she grabbed it and ran. What’s more – she was happy. Happier than I think I’ve ever seen her. It was like a dash of cold water to the face to realize that there is no timeline on this. Reinvention can happen any time. It’s never too late. Though I understood this in an academic sense, I suppose I needed to see it to truly believe it. And in the seeing, I found myself heartened and encouraged and determined.
But I’m also slightly envious. My friend had no choice in the matter – she was pushed off the cliff and into the unknown. Me? I don’t have that luxury. I’m going to have to make a conscious decision to jump. Even though I’ve been standing on the precipice for a while, stuck in the most frustrating kind of stasis, I haven’t been able to figure out what’s worse – the paralyzing fear just before leaping, or the sickening fall as you await the outcome. Will you plummet back to earth…or will you soar?
My friend is soaring and as I stand on the brink and watch her do wonderful things, a little voice at the back of my mind whispers that I can too.