As I grow older, I spend more and more time reflecting on my life and attempting to evaluate it. I look at the good and the bad, and I wonder what I might have done differently. At each stage, had someone inquired, I would have insisted that I was engaged in a rational activity. I was always optimistic that my actions would lead to a quality life.
Some years ago, I took a drawing course from a talented artist who was also a gifted teacher. He taught me a lot about drawing, and later I began to relate some of his wisdom to life in general. “Lose control in order to gain it,” he would declare enigmatically during the lessons in an attempt to get me to loosen my grip on the pencil. He also encouraged me to focus on a small part of a line and draw it the way I saw it. Doing so, he assured me, would result in drawings that were surprisingly pleasing and accurate.
As I experimented with the technique, I found that if I concentrated on the tiny portions of line just ahead of my pencil, I could create remarkably attractive drawings. I was elated, but my daytime work began to interfere with my nighttime art, and eventually, I put down the pencil for good. Not until several years afterward did I begin to reflect on the broader meanings behind my drawing experience.
Indeed, as I look back on my life, it seems like a drawing. Throughout most of it, I tried to take the lines in directions that made sense to me. “So,” you may fairly ask, “is the finished drawing appealing?” It seems too early to say, but I can tell you for sure that it is not perfect. My own failings frequently cause the pencil to stray from the intended line, and I find myself wanting to erase the wilder markings but unable to do so.
By the way, I neglected to mention that in the drawing of one’s life, lifting the pencil from the paper is prohibited. This inconvenient rule presents some problems when one gets off track. Adherence to it means that moving back to the main line requires making additional aberrant marks. Some artists solve this by developing movement around the principal line, incorporating into their work scribbling techniques that decrease the importance of any specific segment. The combination of squiggles and scrawls often makes a picture that is captivating without imprisoning the eye, hand, or mind.
When I look at my life from the point of view of an artist whose pencil constantly gyrates across the paper, I realize that the mistakes I have made are part of a meaningful and aesthetic whole. I feel vindicated, perhaps ecstatic, that the stray marks of my life might not be wasted after all. They have a place in the drawing and need not be erased. Hopefully, a grand Artist is at work, and the part of the drawing that is my life, when juxtaposed with the wonderfully rendered life drawings of other beings, makes sense.
I readily admit that this is speculation on my part. I cannot see the drawing at all, really. I am a mere line attempting to catch a glimpse of the pencil as it passes overhead, unable to visualize even a small portion of the greater composition. Suffice it to say that the final rendering will be a surprise, if ever it is revealed, and I can only hope that the result will be a satisfying and splendid one.