“What I have…” Illustration by Catherine E. White, irridescent ink and collage, 7” x 9”
Loosely inspired by mandala and Venn diagrams, the large green circle represents the nature of the mind. To keep it from being bounded by the hard edge of the circle, I added growing leaves and gold dots which represent growth and expansiveness that is more celestial than terrestrial. The green was chosen to be organic and plant like. The “gold” circle is what we think we lack. It is smaller, less important. It overlaps the green circle because we probably already have most of what we need, if we are willing to look more carefully.
I have not been able to ﬁnd my purple handled scissors since we moved nine months ago. I was irritated by that because I have had those scissors a long time. In the old house I could have reached out and found them instantly.
Last week, I was setting up the new studio room in our new house. I had been avoiding going through my mom’s art supplies after she died. Her bins of well loved paint brushes seem to imply her hands. I miss her hands. Nevertheless I decided that it was time to stop procrastinating and to accept the inheritance not only of the raw materials — paper, pencils, hard crushed tubes of dried up paint and kneeded gum erasers — but also the skills she taught me. This was one of those bittersweet tasks that is simultaneously interesting, sad and cheerfully connected. Sad that my mom was not there to chat with me about it, but connected because I could not help but feel she was there urging me to pick up the legacy of creating magic along with her wizard’s wands.
The ﬁrst box that I opened contained about a dozen pairs of scissors. One pair I recognized from elementary school. One had a fabric strip knotted around the handle to indicate that they were to be used for sewing and cloth, not paper. My mom’s scissors were in the box. My grandmother’s scissors were in the box, and probably my great grandmother’s too! A whole family tradition ready and willing to come back into service.
It is a trap to focus too narrowly on what is missing… the purple scissors, the person, the money, the opportunity, the time. It is easy to miss seeing what is already there. Plenty of other scissors, happy memories, your own hands, a new way of living that requires less money, a diﬀerent opportunity requiring a new business model, other choices for how to spend your time, the people who are still with you and the friends you have yet to meet.
This is true of your own strengths and skills too. It is easy to say, “I have no talent” for art, music, sports, marketing, business or some other poignant place where interests intersect with regret, stagnation, inconsistency or lack of expected results. But take heart, you haven’t really explored the full extent of what you can do, yet.
It is important to never forget that you have a lot going for you as a human being. Your latent skills can be developed. Your strengths can be relied upon and used every day. Your interests and reasons for doing what you do can be deepened and widened and enriched by patient practice.
Answers to various puzzles are there to be found, but they are like the scissors hiding in the box you are avoiding. The avoidance, the procrastination itself, is often a signal that there might be something worthwhile there that could lead you in a new promising direction. The surprising delight is to indulge your curiosity in opposition to your fear — to bravely look inside the box — and discover that what you have is more than anything you lack, because what you are is alive, unlimited and always in the process of learning and growing.