Existence is musical. I heard this expression a few weeks ago, and it left a big impression on me. The idea that life doesn’t have a destination, a goal, is really liberating. For a long time, I felt trapped in an endless corridor of goals. I became enmeshed in the idea that success is a far off destination, achieved only after years of school, tedious jobs, and walking over hot coals. The dream is to one day arrive – whenever that is – save up a bit, retire and then enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Image courtesy of Work of Heart Studios. (And available for purchase!)
Interestingly enough, I “arrived” a bit early and realized that it was all a hoax. At 25, I had finished a graduate degree, was teaching college, and had all the outer trappings of success. But inside, I didn’t feel one bit different at all. I had arrived at the finish line, only to realize that life isn’t a race. Life isn’t a journey with a serious destination. To think this is to cheat yourself out of happiness in the present moment. You delay happiness and tolerate situations to hopefully, one day get there at the end.
In music, the end of the song isn’t the point of the composition. We don’t dance to arrive at a specific spot in the room. The point of music and dancing is to enjoy the experience. And so is life. Life is a musical thing, and the point is to dance or sing along the way.
Image courtesy of Deviant Art.
Time is finite. Time is so precious because none of us knows how much of it we have. Being fully present in the current moment can be difficult, but it is the only way of truly living. Regrets are a consequence of living in the past. Anxiety is a consequence of living in the future. Being here, now, is the surest way to make every moment count.
Creating is the process that allows me to be fully present. It gives me a way of allowing everything to melt away: no distractions; no worries of the past or future; no clinging desperately to ideas, people, or things. It’s my way of enjoying my immediate environment. Its my way of appreciating the gift of being alive. Recently, I’ve been interested in recording where I stand in a space. It really makes me present in capturing the moment, feeling, and perspective of my day.
This week something happened that made me realize I may have become a bit complacent with my life. A friend of mine from college died. Her name was Maureen. She was only 29. Maureen was brilliant, vivacious, and an inspiration. She was passionate about everything she did. Maureen was great at designing the life she wanted and making it a reality. She had the ability to make every moment count.
I was so sad to hear of her passing. It was too soon. Thoughts flooded my mind after receiving the news. Each thought pointed to the same message: make the time for the people you care about, make the time for living the life you dream about. We are not promised a tomorrow. Don’t delay the important things. Chase your dreams. Don’t be afraid to fail. Fall in love. Be present in creating the life you want, even when the risks are terrifying. Because in the end, your life is more important than your fear.
In memory of Maureen Abboud.
New beginnings are exciting. They are also turbulent. Beginnings require other things to come to an end. I’ve thought a lot about this the past few weeks, because I’ve started a new job. This job is completely unrelated to fashion and teaching. With it comes excitement, meeting new people, learning new things, and also a pesky feeling of loss and sadness.
It’s ironic to feel this way. I never particularly aspired to be a teacher. It was something that seemingly happened to me – nothing that I had planned on doing. Yes, I am qualified to teach college. But the identity of being a professor was something that was quite difficult for me to take on.
I don’t have any formal training in pedagogy or social interaction. I have a masters degree to curate costume and textile exhibitions, so I’m always observing how people learn and interact with exhibition and classroom spaces . . .These experiences affected me as an educator because I started teaching at 25. I was, for all intents and purposes, fresh out of the classroom. It was a VERY difficult transition to make, personally and professionally. I didn’t identify with being a teacher/professor, and was often times younger than my students.
Aside from the sheer terror of speaking in front of groups in an intelligent manner, teaching was difficult because of my age. It required me to be more of a mentor than a friend, which was something I didn’t consider myself to be! “Mentor” seems like a title for someone much older and more seasoned than myself. I hardly have my own life figured out, so it seemed ridiculous to see myself in this way.
And then I would encourage them to interact with other students. I started to understand that I didn’t need to be everything to everyone. If another faculty member or student was better at illustrating a croquis or draping a garment, I should let them take over.
A good teacher will give you a structure for success. This is learning the discipline of the course. But a good teacher will also show you how to be independent. The aim of teaching is for students to no longer need a teacher. The goal is for the students to realize they have all the skills and resources to be successful on their own.
In this way, my students were my teachers. They challenged the way I thought about and perceived the world. They showed me new ways to be creative. They helped me to realized that I better at teaching that I let myself believe.
Just as soon as I learned this lesson, life has taken me on another journey. So for now, this is my farewell to leading a classroom. It was amazing, frustrating, enlightening, and exhausting. I’m so grateful for every single person that I’ve met along the way.