There are many, many ways to live a meaningful life

Installation in Oak Park Public library

These past few months, my senior community art cohort has been meeting with community artists from all over Chicago and its suburbs: from pastors to art league directors to community organizers: people who live loudly, softly, confidently, humbly.

We’ve met muralists and sketchbook drawers and people that wouldn’t consider themselves artists at all; they just simply love spending time with other people.

People with all different kinds of personalities, the only thing they share in common, really, being their belief that art making matters to our well-being.

On one of our first site visits, we were assured that our 32 year old selves will not recognize our 22 year old selves, and that this is a very good thing. That we cannot rush the time we need to continue becoming ourselves and developing as artists. What a relieving thought, that change is possible and that we are never truly stuck.

There are many ways to live a meaningful life, and I don’t think we can really say which way is right for each person.

This is turning out to be a year that asks for many strong ‘yes’es and ‘no’s. Definite choices without room to not decide. A year of choosing who I will be and how l will assert myself and take up space in this sprawling, wide world after graduating college in just a few short months.

This winter has been a time of engagement parties, a rose-gold ring (!), and retelling our story over and over. Of writing cover letters and resumes and starting a new job.

A time of commitment to a year-long project on prayer that I don’t always believe in, about a spiritual practice that sometimes feels empty and useless. A time of doubt and persisting and continuing on anyway. Of always being grateful that I did.

In Catholic churches and other religious sites where miracles of physical healing have taken place, those that have been healed often leave their crutches, walkers, and prosthetic limbs as visual testimonies of their healing. Isn’t that beautiful? I need these kind of visual reminders to keep me centered. It’s good to surround ourselves with true, beautiful things. My dear friend MacKenzie Grace Ward calls this “cleansing our color palettes.”

And so I continue on with the conviction that I must keep accumulating what I find beautiful, and continue making and sharing what I make. I hope that you find space to do this in your life as well, whatever it may look like.

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