Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crazy Ideas

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.
~ Erich Fromm

Over 45 years ago, my Dad had a crazy idea. He was tired of his stint as a corporate worker and wanted to do something that utilized his artistic skills. Having a wife and four children, with one on the way, to support, he took a huge risk. He trusted his crazy idea and became a self-employed sign painter. These days they're called commercial artists. I think that if Dad was still around, he would probably give that title a sarcastic laugh, hold his pinkie up in an affected way, and with a poorly executed upper crust British accent, say, "I'm a co-MER-cee-ul ar-TEEST." No. Dad was a sign painter, plain and simple. He was, in fact, a brilliant artist. But I think he kind of liked the relative ease of making a sign. He knew what was expected in terms of look, feel and color. I also know that it gave him pride to drive down the street and to be able to see his artwork standing right out for everyone to see.

Dad trusted his crazy idea. He trusted it enough to turn it into a success. Granted, his success wasn't world famous, it never landed him a write-up in the New York Times, or even a spot on the local news. However, his success allowed him to work as an artist and house, feed and cloth a family of seven. We didn't always have extra, but we never went without. Had my Dad not made it in the sign painting business, he could have gone back to pretty much any manual labor job.

What if we trust our crazy ideas?

For almost two years now I've had this crazy idea. I want to make a living off of art and/or writing. I'm not the greatest at pursuing, I'm not aggressive, but I'm going with my crazy idea. I'm fortunate in that I have the help and support of a wonderful mate. Even so, there are days that I think, "Oh, Barb. Just take a job bagging groceries even and give it up." But... I can't. I can't let go of my crazy idea. It's mine. I own it. It owns me.

I don't have any secrets or great wisdom to share with you on how to trust your crazy idea. It's something I just do. I can't not, because any time I think about giving up, it feels like death to me. I think when there's something that internally tugs at you this way, you have no choice but to try to make it real. It's a matter of working toward whatever that idea is, or resign yourself to living with a lifetime of bitter tasting What-If.

Trust your crazy idea.

What's your crazy idea? I'd love to hear from you either via the comments section, or direct email at:


  1. great for you! you are blessed you had an initial artistic mentor! all my mentors for writing have been via books by reading about their lives (natalie goldberg, sark, anne lammott, i like geneen roth's books about her life too). i'm glad you're taking the risk!! i love your art! and your words. your words are so real and funny, too. i'm happy you're sharing your art and writing with me and also the world! :)

    oh, one of my many big ideas is to get this kid's book out the door! and then my book called Losing Little Guy to help others coping with being with a bad partner so they get out sooner and know more what to do. :)

  2. I had thoughts similar to is wise and true to listen to the muse early than to fold it and squelch it trying to work that day job or to have the archetypal middle class yuppie life. Those "achievements" can be a gilded cage. And people think you are bonkers or selfish for knowing life is no dress rehearsal and NOW is the right time to do IT. I have to answer for how I live MY life....and your father likely gave you the best passive lesson: be true to yourself. I hope I give my sons the same lesson.

  3. I wouldn't call my Dad a mentor exactly. He was a very indimidating person. I ran from art for a long time because of that (the "I'm not good enough" syndrome). But, he did have a wonderful eye for things and I've inherited that, at least. I know he'd be pleased with what I'm doing now. Critical, likely, but pleased.

    I can only be who I am. Trying to be anything but isn't good for any of us.

    PS: Lisa, if you're on facebook, please "friend" me.


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