Living Gracefully

Theresa - Providence, Rhode Island
Entered on March 30, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Some people like the sun or snow or rain, but I love the wind. It reminds me that even the greatest trees can be shaken, that the sturdiest leaves can be whisked away by a breeze, that a landscape can be irrevocably altered by a gale. The wind blows love into lives and sweeps away regret. The wind brings change.

I think that it is important to embrace the winds of change. I feel most alive when new situations, people, and places enter my life. And apparently, I always have; when I was three years old, I told my parents I loved traveling because “I like to sleep in different beds every night.” What we remember most are not the familiar routines of our lives, but the startling – and sometimes scary – changes. Novel experiences challenge us to act to our full potential. A life spent avoiding change can be comforting in its stability, but it lacks the heart-thumping mystery of pursuing the unknown and the un-tried.

In the spirit of venturing into uncharted territory, last summer I attended a month-long Pre-College program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I was immersed in a sea of new faces, presented with an entire city to discover, and exposed to new and thought-provoking ideas. Living in a dorm just a short subway ride from Manhattan was certainly a change from my quiet, family-centered life in Providence, and I thrived. I made friends that I remain close to, explored the city, and made many paintings that I am proud of.

Part of the reason I adore painting – whether it is watercolor, oil, or acrylic – is that for a time, the canvas is in a state of continuous and radical change. But after the first rush, the initial burst of creativity, there is the stage of gradual alterations and meditation, often followed by a lull of brooding incompletion. After some more re-working, perhaps a glaze or two of contrasting shades, the painting ideally reaches a stage of completion.

I find it difficult to accept times of stasis. Sometimes I wish my life was less predictable and structured. Nonetheless, high school is a time of routine and sameness. I know will have more freedom once I graduate, but I also accept that my life will not be a continuous whirlwind of adventure. This is why I believe in calmly accepting both the radical changes and the pleasant sameness of life. Just as the wind doesn’t always howl, I know my life cannot be in a constant state of radical upheaval and flux. I agree with Bob Dylan that you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, but I also know that many a gale and hurricane have caught people unaware. To me it seems that life, like the wind, like a painting, is a strange and paradoxical mix of the forecast-able and the surprising. To live more fully, more deeply – and indeed, more happily – I want to be excited by the unknown and comfortable with the unchanging. I wish to live with grace.