Monday, February 11, 2008

My Personal Paradox of the Peter Pan Complex...

Lend me your ears, and your thoughts.

For years I've had this artist's dilemma. I talk about it here once in a while. It's the paradox of the peter pan complex: 'I don't want to grow up.' I am grown up - but not the serious suit-and-tie type I imagined. I'm kind of relieved in that ;)

The paradox is that for years the thing I've done best has been making little playthings, whimsies and complicated art. It's why I dropped out of engineering to be an artist. That was very much unlike me at the time. I was quite close to the suit-and-tie type then. I worked 40 hours a week and spent most of the rest of my waking hours in the library etc... I was supposed to be working, not playing. Art was playing. It still is, but is that a bad thing?

Art and turning artistic ideas into something tangible is what I do best. I play at these things and encourage others to come play too... no matter if they are kids or kids at heart. I want to share the joy, whether it be in an object I make or a skill I teach so they can make their own.

In my art I encourage my eternal inner child. That is how she keeps wonder and excitement about the world. When I try to 'go work now' it is a whole different feeling. My inner child sits there and scribbles at her desk about the millions of things she'd like to go make. She has all the plans ready to go but I tell her to sit down and be quiet and do her homework. I hardly ever start on a hundredth of the things she has ideas about, because there isn't time, or there is other work to be done. Well maybe she has the right idea and I'm taking myself and what I imagine others expect of me too seriously.

I'm going to go scribble at my desk now. On purpose.

Share your own thoughts and stories. What is your passion and what happens if it doesn't seem practical at first glance?


Unknown said...

I am one of your "stranger subscribers" of which I am convinced you have many. I stumbled upon your blog back before esme, who is beautiful btw, came around. I have been transfixed by your adventures, experiences, and creativity. I enjoy authentic life experiences so thanks for for sharing!

I wanted to reply to your "rant" and say that you are not alone. I must unwillingly admit that I am no where near grown up rather A 22 year old graduate student who is still dependent on parental finances, and a very vague inkling of future professional prospects. I think I see a bit of myself in your "complex". I consider myself perpetually 8 years old when it comes to coloring books (where I intentionally forget the lines) 13 (when I play tag because I still think its cool to be able to swing across the monkey bars in one arms length) and most importantly 17- the age of self definition, redefiniton, redefinition, and redefinition.

If I were to choose a profession I would say that I am called to youth work in many capacities including identity development and empowerment.. I think it stems from the desire to vicariously live through the basic drama that all teenagers face and help them see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Growing up to me means finally defining myself.. which is a concept I deplore. So scribble on sister! Redefine and embrace your inner creativity. I think rebirth through creation and experience is a gift! Again thanks for sharing and for your authenticity!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you nailed it on the head! Being at work has been a real struggle trying to concentrate on the documentation and deliverables that are required by certain deadlines and my mind is off wandering about new characters to create. I end up having two notebooks on my desk at work - one that holds all the work related stuff and one that holds all the crafty/arty stuff that will have to be worked on when time allows - and I have to admit that it's the latter book that gets opened the most during the day!

If I didn't have the ability to play freely and imagine and create and think very much like a kid, which is what happens when I sit down in my studio and actually make things, I think I would go completely bonkers.

It frustrates me daily that there is never really enough time to 'play' as much as I would like given the reality of life (bills to pay, illnesses, commitments, etc), but it has certainly developed patience and made every moment I do have to create and play more valuable and enjoyable than I can properly describe in words.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I so have to think this out and come back to it. But being a grown up shouldn't mean rigid interpretation and chained to a clock. In fact, it can't be for all but it's a good thing that is is for some. Takes all kinds, you know?

And now you see why I have to come back to this. Gibbery! Sorry!

mrspao said...

I love children's books and have quite a few. Your toys are wonderful because they have the wonder of a child's eyes in them :)

Lynn said...

Over the years I have been the luckiest person in the world to have been able to fulfill every dream I have ever had for myself. I was too was educated in core sciences and became a scientist, but as I settled down and had a family I knew this world was not for me. I was raised by folks who sought always to find balance between the work world and their world-inwhich we all were perpetually 12. I married a man who is a business man through and through, yet he also has perpetually 12 year old who is awakened within him on his off work hours.
Now that my world in business and pleasure revolves around creativity I have no longer a need to balance that rigid routine with the tangents of the 12 year old.
Once I chose to keep the 12 year old alive 24/7 I finally felt peace.
The artist: whether a crafter, or a writer, or a person involved in wellness practices like Yoga etc has to create the world they can fit in. In doing so, there is no struggle for balance, and one can be truly happy every moment of the day. The mundane does not exist in the created world, which is also the creative world run by perpetually 12 year olds.
My Dad is 66 years old, and he is high spirited and happy because he IS perpetually 12.