Sitting here with computer wiz Kevin Moriarity who’s offering counsel on my website, helping with those last lingering snags that despite my best efforts I couldn’t figure out on my own.
My stepson, Jason, is a genius geek who does websites in his sleep. The folks at ITS resolve all my office computer headaches, no problem. I’ve got friends, family, colleagues, many of whom know way more about this computer stuff than I do and would’ve been happy to help.
But I wanted to do my own website. It’s on a long list of things I told myself I could not do.
Turns out this was yet another fearful fiction.
Told myself I could never leave my full-time career in advertising and all it’s lucrative rewards to pursue a degree in psychology (earned my doctorate in 1994). Could never be my own boss (in my 13th year of self-employment). Could never figure out a Mac (typing on one now). Could never move art-making beyond my private practice and home studio work to an actual brick-and-mortar spot where groups of folks could do hands-on art-making (The Well Within Workshop is being constructed as we speak). There’s nothing special about me that isn’t also special about you. I could go on and on with my fears–the ones I’ve conquered and the ones that continue to have a hold on me. Bet you could, too. We’re built to be fearful, thanks to the amygdala, that neuro-structural CEO of fear. But we’re also built to stretch beyond those fears if we’re to reach our fuller potential. Neuroscience has proven this to be true.
I think of that NPR interview with David McCullough that ran awhile back, soon after the publication of 1776, in which the author went on at length describing in vivid detail the horrific conditions, the impossible barriers, the complete hubris that governed those men who crossed the pond with their sites set on independence, culminating with the statement: “You have to understand–there was nothing to suggest that this was going to work.”
That openness to operating beyond the fear and in the direction of possibility is a component of our collective ancestry. We’re all here because our ancestors made the heroic decision to leave where they were with their sites and their hopes set on something better. Don’t we owe it to them to keep moving further in that direction, facing our fears and moving toward something better? Art-making offers one place in which to do that. It continues to offer that to me and maybe you, too.
I’m too old to leave my amygdala in charge. We have plenty of opportunity but we don’t have forever.