“How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out.” ~Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey is the perfect guy to help you survive a mid-life crises. He is funny, eccentric, wise, and doesn’t believe in reality. The best kind of friend for the transition spaces in a life between what was and what will be.
So, I heard Jim say, “How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out.” And the question and answer stuck. I walked around with it for months, rolling and turning it over in my mind like a precious gem in my palm.
I was beginning to move forward from a 3-year period of devastation and redirection. A twenty year marriage had ended in a nasty way, the following relationship became a traumatic and painful experience, and I’d exited a fifteen-year career field with no serious idea of what was next. All those standard future plans, life assumptions, and normal expectations disappeared along with the personal identity aspects of the woman who held them. I was entering my 50’s in an existential crises state!
I was suddenly in one of those mid-life crises states that I’d read numerous articles about through the years but never expected to experience. Life has a funny way of surprising us! We get all comfy and cozy and complacent and … Bam! Our soul suddenly moves us toward greater circles of being, brings us new challenges and growth in the form of a major shift and expansion of the self. Hang on! Life says. Change is coming whether you want it or not! My favorite Picasso quote, once applied only to my artistic endeavors, suddenly became my whole life experience!
Every act of creation is first an act of destruction. ~Pablo Picasso
The “I” listening to a You Tube video of Jim Carrey was a skeleton sketch, a “flat character” I was trying to figure out how to flesh-out into a multi-dimensional, active character in my own living story. At that time, not much was certain. I knew I needed to heal and build a new life based on a different structure of understanding, both within my self and within the world. I’d spent fifteen years in a high-pressure, profit-driven industry that ate my soul away a piece at a time. I knew it was imperative to leave that arena and return to the arts and my love of creation and contribution. But, how?
Being open-minded and exploring new facets of myself and my interests was the first step. Opening my mind to new possibilities and fresh ways of seeing life and the world within me and around me allowed me to find new loves and joys in different forms of artistic expression and involvement.
Writing seemed a natural option after all the years as a poet, writer, publisher. But, it also felt old and stifling to some degree, too much a part of the “old me” that I’d outgrown. And what exactly was I to do if I wrote? Should I finally put a book manuscript together? Focus on poetry? Do some essays or short stories? Or, something new? Contemplative pieces or activist efforts?
The shift of creating from a more personal perspective to creating as a way of serving the world wasn’t totally new to me. My first writings and Infinity Forum Magazine were easily “activist oriented” back in the nineties. Still, activism as such wasn’t compelling. There was no fight I felt pulled toward or battle I wanted to join. And yet, there was the desire to do something worthwhile; to create in such a way as to bring value to others and the world around me in whatever way my talents would allow.
Eventually, the desire to serve the world and the fun and enjoyment of taking pictures led me into photography. I spent a year “playing” at it with my I-phone, and then bought a professional camera, gear, and books on photography and the Adobe Programs. It became a new passion and a serious area of study and effort. I started seeing photographs from the narrative, story-telling perspective. They became a form of visual poetry to me.
In photography and poetry, and it could be easily argued – in all art, the artist is in the act of creating a picture or an emotion for a reader or viewer. Painting with words is not dissimilar from freezing a scene and its emotive quality in a photograph. The interest and willingness to try a new thing and master new skills gained me a position as a photographer for a local neighborhood magazine. I serve my local world in a small way by taking photographs of families that help tell their stories and introduce them to other members of their community.
The photography and work for the magazine led me back to my love of writing, design, and publishing. A new glossy national magazine is in the works to begin publishing this fall. The love of artistic expression and creatives helped me to reach out and initiate connections and friendships with other local artists and craftsman. They are like-minded souls seeking to create positive change in the world by using their gifts and talents in service-minded venues and organizations. I am learning to work in co-creative groups and spaces with the goal of talent as a form of service rather than only individual expression.
These are still major changes for me — some days I dive right in and other days there is some tension and stress in the growth process. But, that’s okay. Life is wonderful about meeting you in the growth and expansion as you move forward and deeper into it!
Every day is a new opportunity to learn and grow, to become a more expansive being within ourselves and within the world we share. It isn’t about being perfect, having all the answers, or even knowing exactly what to do in a given moment — it’s truly about being open to living in such a way that we are open to the newness and beauty and opportunities life brings our way. That we find courage to keep believing there is more to learn, understand, and experience. This growing into wider concentric circles of connection and being is what a vital, conscious life offers us.
So, dear friends, take some time and ponder the quote by Jim Carrey. How will you serve the world? And remember, you are constantly going into the next widening circle of living. Trust life to carry you and know that we are all still learning and becoming. And that is a beautiful thing!
Blessings & Love,