Monday, October 24, 2011

Ships that have Sailed

No pictures of the girls on this post. Just a lot of thoughts. Here is an instance when my blog is my journal. so only read on if you are actually interested in what goes on in my head. If not, if you just like the funny posts, you are under no obligation to continue. I promise, I won't get my feelings hurt. :)

During our long day of flying to come back out to Idaho, Eric and I had opportunity to talk about a million different things. But the one that really stuck out to me--because I haven't taken time to really think about it...EVER-- was our discussion about 'wishes' or 'desires' or 'dreams' or whatever you would like to call them. A discussion about all the possible things we almost did with our lives as far as education and profession goes. Now I'm not talking about when you are 6 and you want to be a firefighter or when you are 10 and think you will be the next Jane Goodall (um, yes, that was my goal in 3rd-5th grade). Those dreams are valid, but my thoughts revolve around the choices in HS and college that shape your 'career'. Do you ever have those 'what if' moments? Like I said, I had never really thought about all the things I almost did, until now. Suddenly 'what if' is more on my mind.

I love art. and I love biological science. In my younger years, I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. I'm not even kidding when I tell you that at the end of 10th grade I told my adviser I wanted to illustrate biology textbooks as a career. I think I would have been amazing at it. Eric tells me there is actually HUGE demand for qualified science-artists who can illustrate what the intellectuals can't. But, that ship has definitely sailed. I don't remember much biology. And this field would not afford me the interaction with people that I thrive on.

I thought about being an architect. The art and engineering was both lovely and challenging... but I was intimidated and scared to pursue such an ambitious field. Plus, BYU didn't have an architecture program. If they had, I might have given it a shot. But that ship has sailed too. I am neither prepared to go into such a rigorous field nor confident that I could design anything fabulous. I guess I will just have to be one of those admirer/critics that appreciates fantastic architecture when she sees it.

Then I was going to be an industrial designer. Again, that combination of art and science was so intriguing to me. But I got in there and realized I was not trendy enough to make really great designs, nor skilled enough to really master all the industrial materials, nor interested in the huge time commitment and ridiculous work hours. I didn't fit in the program and really didn't see myself fitting in the profession. Again, I can admire great design when I see it... but don't want to be the one making it.

I thought I'd make a pretty fabulous landscape architect because I love gardening and being outdoors. But I got talked out of it (I won't say by whom), which I think is a shame. Because I could have been great in this field. But that ship has sailed too because going into landscape would require full time education which I'm not willing to do with little kids... and let's face it, when they aren't little any more, I probably won't want to do it then either. I'll probably keep it as a hobby-- or at least be an annoying client looking over the shoulder of whomever comes to trim our trees when I'm 50. :)

I thought about floral design-- the hands on, almost sculptural elements were satisfying along with the 'outdoorsy' quality to it. The foil, of course, is the business side of things. Plus it could easily digress into floral grunt work and lose that creative, stimulating quality. It can't be all weddings and events, there are also the 'boring' bouquets and balloon thingies.

I thought about illustration because it is a career with a more stable paycheck. I could definitely have done that, and I suppose that door hasn't entirely closed, but it would require self-marketing and business sense.... which, shamefully, I don't possess much of. Which, by the way, is why I would make a terrible 'artist'. I'm not interested in trying to get into the gallery scene, which is where the money is to begin until commissions come in. And that's just it. I'm not eager to seek out commissions.

I love sculpture. That hands on thing again. And I can do it outside or work with natural materials like wood and stone that are just so satisfying. I'm very good in sculpture too, it comes naturally to me. And my work is actually-gasp-right up there with my competition instead of mediocre (like my painting). but it is a)expensive. equipment and materials. b)space consuming. equipment and materials. c) time consuming. I want to focus on my family. and d)marketing. the bane of my artistic pursuits. I guess sculpture will just remain a strong desire-- or a very expensive hobby, if we ever have the money to make that a reality.

Then there are the fields like culinary arts that would be amazing because I LOVE to cook, I love the intellectual, scientific challenge of it combined with the sculptural element to food presentation. Or there are the performing arts that I would have LOVED to actually do something with-- musical theater particularly. Though I'm not the best dancer, so that would probably have been a flop. Still, there are always community productions...

So then we come to teaching. Because that is the field I'm actually pursuing. I can take the art I love--and all those talents at appreciating good design that I DIDN'T create-- and combine it with an art history intellectualism I'm good at and teaching skills that aren't too shabby either... and voila! you've got a career that is flexible enough to allow me the familial focus I demand, stable (hopefully) so I'm actually employable, artistic but without business savvy, and intellectually challenging. I think this is the best I'm going to get at this point. And I think I'll be good at it. and I am excited to teach.

but sometimes I wonder...

especially those hands-on or science-oriented fields that would be so fun...
what if...

But you know what? An entire fleet of possibilities has sailed. And it won't do me any good to mourn their departure. I'm not on a leaky rowboat or anything, I've got a decent rig--- and my beautiful family is here with me too. So while it may not be the first dream or the most exciting or exotic dream I've had, it is a fit. And for those of you who successfully caught the ship I dreamed of catching at one time or another, I'll admit sometimes I'm jealous of you. But I also don't begrudge you your happiness. Maybe I'll take a vacation tour on one of your ships some day. In the mean time. I've got a ship to sail (aka, a paper to finish) and a family on whom I need to focus. Today is infinitely more vital than possible tomorrows of yesterday. So to all those ships that have sailed...

bon voyage.


  1. Beautiful. This so eloquently sums up how I feel sometimes. I have to remind myself that I didn't choose all those other possibilities. I chose THIS possibility. I'm not ashamed to admit that I wonder "what if" on occasion, but I have had to learn not to dwell on it. I hope to find a good career fit for myself one of these days. When those days are not so chock full of raising my adorable kiddos, but until then I will do my best to focus on this possibility, this choice. Thanks for sharing Elisa. You're awesome!

  2. I do this sometimes in the future tense: "Ships that will have sailed."

    There are lots of things I still CAN do with my life—we're not even 30 yet, people!—and I still recognize that they're beyond my capacity/probably not as cool as I think they are/not what I *really* want to be doing.

    The jury's still out on some of them (got a magazine from BYU today that had me yearning for academia, for example). It will all depend on what I have time to do and what I really want to do when I have time to do it. That logic might be circular.

    When it comes down to it, I know that what I'm doing now (mothering, writing) is what I REALLY want to be doing. Maybe later in life, I'll have time to add other pursuits to the list (like when my kids are grown), but for now, I think I've chosen the better part for me and my life.

    [I hear you on the biological sciences: I'm sad I'm not as good at math as I once was. (Science was never a favorite subject for me.)]

  3. I read this post last night before I went to bed. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I'm a true believer that life, with all of our input and decisions, and even their consequences/blessings work out exactly how they are supposed to. Perhaps this thought just makes me feel better, but there is a plan and that is so comforting to me. I look back on all of the "what ifs" in my life (your list is twice as long as mine - you talented girl :)) and thank Him for it. All of those talents or realizations that you had are still apart of you. They have brought you right where you are - and I'm thankful for that because you have been a sweet blessing in my life. You are the one that brought me back to art after I had Jude. You are the one that taught countless sunday school lessons that made my heart burn. It was all of your intelligence and talents, plus your beautiful soul and testimony that not only made me smile but made me want to be a better person. So, I just wanted you to know I'm thankful you are where you are at and excited to see what you decide to further do with the gifts you've been given. You're incredible.

    p.s. you could do any of the things on your list and i'm sure you will :)

  4. Elisa I feel like I have countless thoughts and ideas in my head that still need to be processed before I can adequately respond to this post. What a beautiful account of you and your abilities, yet the decisions that led you to where you are in life. You said you have a pretty decent rig - I think that your current ship is grand and fabulous, in every way possible. Oh goodness I just want to sit on the floor together while the kids play and talk for hours about this. You are a better person than me to have never thought about this before, since I seem to struggle with my own "what ifs" sometimes and miss the beauty of today and the ship I'm on right now. Thank you for sharing. How I miss you!