What the Opthamologist Taught Me about Art

Posted By on May 21, 2017

A few months ago, just after my 50th birthday, I went for my biannual ophthalmology appointment. The doctor said, among other things, “Well, your cataracts aren’t progressing too quickly.”

Wait, cataracts?

The way she worded it revealed two things to me. 1: I had cataracts. 2: She had known it since at least six months ago. I asked the obvious, enlightened question: “Huh?” She looked at me quizzically and repeated the comment. “I didn’t know I had cataracts. I don’t think it was mentioned before…” Between the offhanded comment and the fact that the drops in my eyes prevented focus, I probably looked bewildered.

“Most people don’t like being reminded of their age.”

Fair enough assumption, I guess. It was a week after my fiftieth birthday. But I’ve never been bothered by the thought of growing old. Grey hair doesn’t bother me, and I’m rather pleased to see that mine is growing in silver. I love the idea of growing old with my husband and maybe even someday living alone with him in retirement. (I’m not counting my chickens on that one, since Curtain Climber was an after-40 baby.) I had a whopper of a surprise birthday party, with even most of my out of town family there. It was a good start to a promising decade.

It wasn’t until a month or two later that I found myself increasingly starting projects and not finishing. I don’t mean like starting a painting or a journal. I mean like learning a new skill. Taking a class. Keeping an art journal, starting a YouTube channel. And it wasn’t till two months later that I realized that my conviction that I didn’t really have a bucket list wasn’t accurate. I had one, it turns out. It’s just that it wasn’t about travel or parachuting. It was mostly about learning.  I want to learn to draw, and to use Adobe Illustrator. I want to learn how to organize my life and how to make a Coptic stitched journal. I want to take a class about  drawing faces, and a class about running a business, and on the side I want to learn watercolor and redstone design. It turns out there is just not enough time in the day, or even in the year, for all that I want to do right away. And ever since I hit 50, I have this frantic urge to do it all. I want to be a better me, and if I try to do all of these growing and learning things I will be in way over my head. If my idea of success is to accomplish all the things I want to accomplish, then I will surely fail.

If, however, my main goal is to praise God, I have time for it. I have time to honor Him whether it’s through formal prayer or through painting. I don’t have to do everything. I only have to do one thing, and let the rest serve as a tool in the quest to reach my Father’s house by nightfall. And I will be delighted to show up there with grey hair and wrinkles.


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