Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wishes, Dreams, and Art

I keep wanting to write a post about the things I'm thinking about for my future, and every time I try and actually form it all into some sort of coherent essay, I get stuck or my mind wanders off. So I finally decided just to throw some things down that I'd like to learn to do. This isn't strictly a post about careers. Some of these may make me money, some may not - if I think too much about how to make money on a hobby, I convince myself that I never will, and I kill the interest before it even gets started. So I just want to poke my nose into stuff, and if something is going to work its way into a full-time thing, I'll let it unfold organically.

Full-Time RVing. I already posted about this here. This is the one thing on this list that I am almost 100% sure I will do, which is good, because it will give me the freedom to pursue some of the others...

Hula Hooping. I can already hoop, a little, in the sense of being able to keep the hoop up around my waist, but I really wanna learn the cool hoop-dancing stuff, like this. I would also like to make my own hoops and possibly sell them or teach others how to make them.

Living History Interpretation. This is one that I think I might like to turn into a career. You know when you go to places like Colonial Williamsburg, and they have all these people in costume who act like it's the 18th century and explain how to make soap or talk about how they used to go to school with Ben Franklin? And if you happen to be 14 when you go, like I was, you spend a lot of time trying to get them to break character because it's the equivalent of a seven-year-old yanking off Santa's beard? I used to think these people had the worst job in the world, kinda like being stuck in the Goofy suit at Disney World. But now that I am totally geeked on history, I absolutely LOVE the idea of that kind of make-believe time travel. And there are tons of museums, farms, etc. around the country where I could find work doing this sort of thing. Even if it doesn't exactly pay well, many places offer a free RV hookup if you volunteer to do this kind of work - which is basically the equivalent of having your rent and utilities paid. If I get good at it, I might even like to branch out into acting in small plays, especially historical ones.

Making Comics. I've had a few ideas for comics floating around my head for years, but nothing has ever come of them yet - because I can't draw. I finally got sick of that this week, dusted off my copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and started practicing. We'll see where this goes. I don't know if I'll ever feel confident enough about my comics to publish them, but I'll definitely feel better just for having written them down!

Singing and Playing Music. Technically I've been playing music ever since I first got my hands on an instrument, and I've probably been singing since I could talk. But I've let go of a lot of my music practice in recent years, and I'd really like to get good enough to perform in public again. I have no aspirations toward making this into a career - I just love performing music and I'd love to be in a community orchestra, or play for friends at parties, or what have you.

Building Computers. Thanks to the blessing-in-disguise of my current computer being a piece of shit, I have a lot of experience digging into the guts of computers and swapping out the parts. I figure if I can do that, it shouldn't be too difficult to learn to build them from scratch. Admittedly the limited space of an RV won't let me do too much of this, but I can definitely see building computers for people here and there when I'm parked for extended periods.

Dancing. I have some experience with dancing, here and there - I've taken little bits of ballet and bellydance lessons, I've performed "Thriller" in public four times in the last eight months, and at ARGH last November I learned a traditional Indian dance in just two or three days, and performed it in the talent show. I've also done a lot of things that are related to dancing, like yoga, marching band, and Dance Dance Revolution. Despite all this, I really don't think of myself as a dancer at all, because I just don't have that much practice with any one style. I'd really love to learn many different types of dance - especially bellydance, swing dance, and even though I have a mental block about it only being for skinny teenagers, I wouldn't mind getting back into some ballet. I LOVE dancing and I want to start doing more of it!

Doing Science. Okay, so one of my BFFs has a habit of hopping from one career to the next, and *I* have a habit of looking at whatever she's doing and going "Ooh! I wanna do that!" Right now, she is working in a biology lab, doing entomology work, so of course now I wanna do something like that too. I worked in a college lab before, washing test tubes and labeling things, and as boring as that sounds it was one of the best jobs I've ever had. The cool thing is that if I park my RV at state parks, they frequently need people to help out with science and conservation work, and just like the living history gigs, you can usually get a free RV hookup and probably some additional pay out of it. Not bad.

Writing. This may seem weird to put on a "wishlist" like this, since the fact that you are reading this confirms that I already write. But I have some specific things I've been itching to write and haven't sat down and done it. Specifically I'd really like to put up a blog or website that is more strictly focused on unschooling, since this is more my personal blog of whatever my brain happens to throw up that day. I *might* consider speaking, eventually, but it's not on my list of wants right now - I'll just greet it if it comes knocking.

Conference Chasing. Well, it would be a waste of all that freedom if I didn't use it to hit as many unschooling conferences and nerdy pop-culture conventions as possible, right? ;)

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Looking back over this list, the main thing that stands out to me is how much of the work I want to do is in the arts. Dancing, writing, acting, drawing, making music... all the things (lucky) kids are encouraged to do, but adults are almost universally nudged away from because they're not constructive and you "can't" make a career out of them. These are things I've wanted to do my whole life, but was always subtly led away from them, down the more practical path. "That's no way to make a living" and "You need something to fall back on" (i.e., put the flute down and go get a business degree) are the battle cries used against anyone who wants to take a creative path in life. Few people suggested that these interests would be worth pursuing even if I didn't make a living off them.

Shortly before I left high school, I auditioned for a school of the arts. It seemed like my dream life, taking classes in all those different things. Except when I mentioned that at the audition, it was hastily and sternly pointed out to me that at this school, you had to pick a major and stick with it. I was auditioning as a clarinetist, which meant I could not take a visual art class. Or a drama class, or a dance class, or even a creative writing class. I could only take academics and band classes. Even in public school, if I'd jostled my schedule around, I could've taken more than one type of art! I was deeply disappointed, and the teacher's manner made me think I was wrong to even mention such a thing, wrong to even want to be creative in more than one way. I walked out of that school nearly ready to cry, and never went back to take even a single class.

After that, I subconsciously let go of the idea that I could be an artist and a musician and a writer and a dancer. I still picked at all those things, the way you might pick at a plate of cold dinner, but I no longer saw them as things I could really get good at and have lots of fun with. Only now, in my mid-20s, am I beginning to rediscover the joy of art for art's sake. It's amazing how much damage was done to me by a school I never even went to.

So now I say: To hell with you, snot-ass school of the arts! From now on, I'll let the world be my art school. It won't force me to pick a major. It won't play keepaway with worlds of knowledge while curiously claiming to be concerned with my education. And best of all, I won't have to wake up at 5AM to go to it - it's there all the time.

1 comment:

nostalgiajunkie said...

Great post, and I feel much the same way as you do. I don't need no stinking art school to learn about art, nor do I need one for an excuse to do artsy things. I wish more people would see it that way.