“I used to be obsessed with cooking. It was all I thought about. I did cooking shows on the BBC. I wrote 27 cookbooks. I wrote a whole cookbook just about garlic. Then one night, I was editing the proofs for my 27th cookbook, when I picked up a marker and drew a mermaid on a piece of scrap paper. I looked at that mermaid, she looked at me, and I never thought about cooking again. Ever since that moment, I’ve thought about nothing but art. I was sixty years old when I made the switch. I’m not sure what caused it. It was either menopause, a psychotic break, or a muse bit me on the bum!”
Clearly, this explains it all–why some of us come to our true field of endeavor later in life than others. For me, after a lifetime as a “health and communications policy wonk who writes” — well at age 58, to be precise — I walked away to pursue a new direction as a beadweaver of beautiful art jewelry. I had that “psychotic break” or had the “muse bite me on the bum” as described. AND, similarly, I haven’t looked back for one moment.
It’s been a roller coaster ride, for sure. But it is meaningful in a way far different from speechwriting and hearing one’s words spoken on C-span or in a keynote address; having a press release (about someone else) picked up by a major news outlet; or seeing one’s words in print ( over the name of someone else, of course).
After creating intellectual property for years, I now have tangible, touchable results of a different brand of creativity. Instead of weaving words to form coherent sentences, paragraphs, articles, I weave (well, sew with needle and thread) tiny beads to form a coherent whole. And, for once, I am not constrained by the rules of grammar and syntax. My beadwork, in contrast, often runs riot, in a freeform madness. Sure, it most often lives within the rules of color and is bounded by the stitches I use, but otherwise, constraints, restraints, and the need to live within the mind and structure of others is OFF!! And it is so very liberating!
So, hooray for that muse who bit me on the bum….or WAS it a psychotic break?? HMMMM…… And today — as every day — I celebrate those willing to take that leap of faith, to follow their muse at whatever age and in whatever endeavor. Hooray for the creative, the daring, the artful!