Looking at life through a child’s eyes

Sunday, January 21, 2018 - 5:14pm

Between Fourth Church preschool on Michigan Avenue, the excitements of downtown Chicago and our apartment on East Ohio Street, I lived my three-year-old life. This was the period of my artistic beginnings.

One afternoon, satiated by snack time, I was overcome with artistic vision and declared: “Mommy, I need to paint.” So I took my reds, pinks, purples and baby fingers to a canvas. If I’d had the advanced knowledge or vocabulary at age three to express myself in words, I think I would have explained this event with the words of American realist Edward Hopper: “If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.”

So my time in Chicago was spent painting on random afternoons, attending art classes with my mother and doing whatever my three-year-old self did. My knowledge of my early childhood comes from the stories that my mother has told me — a collection enumerated with tales about how I expressed myself creatively. Today, the physical tokens of my childhood are the doodles my father keeps in his wallet and the artwork stored at our new home in Utah.

“Look at life with the eyes of a child,” said Henri Matisse. Monsieur Matisse, I am trying to live true to your doctrine. I am trying to live by the vision of the world that I had as a child — a life full of art.

In recent years, I’ve become preoccupied. I feel dominated by my tasks and my schedule, and I am always trying to figure out the most effective way to organize my time. So it feels like my purpose is to keep doing the things that I have to do. And it is kind of taking the life out of me.

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all,” said Michelangelo.

I want to continue achieving, but I want to stop centering my existence around my task list. Life goes on until I complete something. Life goes on after I complete something. The things in my life that I look back and remember are not the tasks that I complete — they are the moments that I have let myself live.

Recently, I’ve noticed the presence of art in my life and I have not been able to get it out of my mind.

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul,” said Goethe.

I went to the Union poster sale between classes and took a few minutes to imagine what all of the images could look like on my wall.

I’ve been sitting and writing my articles in coffee shops, looking outside and watching life go by, getting lost in my imagination in an attempt to put words and ideas together. It feels good. I feel like I am creating.

I am proud of myself when I can completely focus during yoga. I’m not so flexible, I’m a little unbalanced, I’m definitely not a poster yogi. But I go to learn to be in the moment. And the best yogi moments are the moments of rest where I really do let rest, and the beat from the stereo that pulses through the room, take over my mind.

Right now, art is making me feel, making me relax and making me be present in my life.

“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live,” said Auguste Rodin.

I don’t think my three-year-old self knew her goals or aspirations. I don’t think she had a task list. I think she did things she felt were right. Art put a spirit in me that I simply felt I didn’t need to explain. I think I had the right idea about art and life when I was three. Now I’m taking it seriously. Art makes me feel alive, and that feels so much better than any accomplishment.