Monday, July 12, 2010

The Long Silence

I almost need to steal the title from Franklin's latest post: Patience With Everything Unresolved.  In fact, I almost need to steal Franklin's template.  Being is becoming, and blogs are becoming something else.

It's not that I haven't had anything to say.  I've shamelessly blogged my way through several major life transitions; maybe it's in the nature of the current one to be different.  In any case, I'm not making any promises. 

Briefly, the news is this: I've decided to become a physical therapist.  It's a doctoral degree that will take me five or six years to complete, including prerequisites.  Although I've got two bachelor's degrees already, they're--surprise!--virtually useless.  I recently sent for my transcript, and its dominant theme is 'Course Of Study Undertaken By An Adolescent Mind.'  People under twenty-five should not be allowed to go to college, I swear.

What this means is that I will be broke and working my ass off for the foreseeable future, which will not be a big change.  What will be a big change is that when I'm done, I will be employable at a solid middle-class salary for the first time in my life. 

This could not have happened if I hadn't become thoroughly and irremediably disgusted with the state of the art world.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that I am an idealist--stubborn, possibly naive, certainly foolish.  Art represented part of an ideal to me, and I invested a big chunk of my soul in it, along with considerably more money than my actual income. 

And 'art,' as practiced by the self-styled elite of the global art scene, is a giant confidence game.  I used to think I could either change it or create a niche for myself within it; now I think that my values are incompatible with its founding principles.  Continuing to sacrifice my time, money and attention to this cynical game doesn't make me a dedicated artist, it just makes me a chump.

I've long been aware that I have three vocations--artist, writer, and healer.  For the last couple of decades, I've been weighting the 'artist' as the primary part of my identity.  Letting go of that is a wrench to my ego, but necessary to my soul.  I will have a studio again, I will paint again, but maybe not for a good long time.  Now is the time for exercising my lazy but adequate left brain, and taking the adventure that comes.  


Spatula said...

Wow! Congratulations on making what sounds like a tough, huge decision that will bring all kinds of new possibilities into your life. Smooth sailing and happy studies!

Anonymous said...

Hey...congrats Stephanie. ANy change is......well.....change....with the possibility of new options and insights and "accidents". Good luck.
I am just about wrapping up 2 years, 8 months and 18 days of not doing "art" in order to become a nurse. It wasn't so bad to do actually......maybe it fall under the category of maturity????? but I new I had to give it up in order to study and pass. Now I am counting the days and fantasizing about about what situation I want to create to have a studio again.
Sometimes, I think that if we live long enough, we will have it all. Of course it does help not to interface with the artworld as it is ( I think) and one can still interface with all the artists that one likes or loves and live in that world without harm still. And we have a long history of doing art just because we have to, starting with cavepeople and probably earlier.
PS. I am a little shocked at the 5-6 years. The RN degree took just under 3 years and a couple of months including finding the school. BUt that's not a doctoral degree.

Pretty Lady said...

Spatula, I've missed you! It's my fault, of course. I've gone cold turkey on all blogs except Franklin's and Andrew Sullivan's. I'll come by yours later today.

Danny--yeah. Physical therapy used to be a master's, but all the programs are switching to a doctorate, and it looks like this will soon be mandatory. I've got about two years of prerequisites to complete before I can even apply, plus volunteer hours (massage therapy doesn't count, alas), the GRE, and various recommendations. It's going to be a slog.

But I think I'm much more temperamentally suited to physical therapy than nursing. I LOVE creative problem solving, and I'm not so crazy about giving injections.

Hope to see you soon!

Susi said...

When I decided to go back to grad school in my late 30s, I was so worried. But I got thru, even though school isn't my forte.

Monsieur Papa said...

I'm sorry you have to swallow the blue pill like the rest of us but I'll cherish my paintings even more knowing they'll be true collectors for the next too many years.

Not an easy decision, for sure. Everybody stand up! "Bravo l'Artiste!!!"

Pretty Lady said...

Monsieur, have you been lurking ALL THIS TIME??? Why haven't you written? We moved to Philadelphia, you know.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Stephanie, we all must make certain decisions, ones that we never expected usually. I surprised myself and nearly everyone who ever knew me, when I decided that I wanted to be a full time mom. Logistics required me to put aside making art to do that properly. But all the stuff I did for the 10 years that my kids were young gave me so much more than I ever thought possible when I was ready to get back to painting.

I think that being able to do other things besides making art, can make one a better artist AND a better person.

And anyway, learning new stuff is ALWAYS a good thing;) Good luck on your new endeavor!

Desert Cat said...

If I may, "congratulations!" You will be in demand, to be sure.

As you probably know, my wife is an Occupational Therapy Assistant, and if you were to consider any other field I might recommend this one. She pulls down the same hourly wage as I do, and I am an engineer, FFS! She only had to complete a two-year degree to pull off this coup.

Certainly "healer" is a big part of what OT is about, as is PT.

Just a thought.