Apparently most people my age, in particular men, have a midlife crisis. The pudgy, droopy bastards grow ponytails, get earrings and Harleys and flirt with their kids’ babysitters, eventually ditching their wives for their 21 year old secretaries. They pine for their days of glory on the sports field, their high-jinx in the classroom and their drinking and sexual prowess of their student days.
Me? Well if you’re quiet and listen very carefully, and if the wind is blowing in your direction, you may just hear the beating of the drum. It is the different drum that I have always marched to, often by choice but generally a subconscious thing. Its in my dna I’m afraid. Yep, thats right, I’m a freak!!: I’m the Emo, the Goth, the Bohemian, the nerd, the loner! People have never known quite how to take me; first team rugby player and lover of Shakespeare and poetry! In touch with the gentler, dare I say it?, feminine side of my nature without being gay! Vegetarian! Politically incorrect! Emotional! I admit it, all me!
Ok, back to the midlife crisis thing! Mine consisted of the study of fine arts…wtf!!!??? See told you!! Freak!!! In my defence this desire…this craving… this lusting, this all-encompassing passion has always been part of my psche, perhaps my drum? The club of the artist was one that I belonged to but was not aware of, it was that one place where I was content, at peace and yet vibrantly alive and ecstatic!
The road I have travelled, apologies for the use of that tired old phrase, has been the one less travelled and whether THAT is the difference remains to be seen. What is certain is that the journey thus far has not been a smooth, easy one. There have been people who have become the pothole, the thorn in the heel, the detour in my journey: my std. 6 (grade 8) art teacher, Mr York, whose attitude, scorn and lack of regard for my work totally destroyed my confidence of my artistic ability and even sensibility. At a particularly crucial time he offered now constructive criticism, no way forward, did not take a little time to tutor someone who was obviously passionate about the subject. I ask you how many teachers have the opportunity to educate someone who wants to learn. So I dropped art, feeling I was a failure, without talent. Cue sad violin music!!
The second roadblock was Mr Houghton, the art lecturer at Edgewood where I studied teaching. My psyche had sufficiently healed to allow me the hope that I could undertake the discipline of art again. This time the educator, not a nasty man by any means, did not seem to have a clue as to how to tutor or mentor a student. Kind of the “I’ll let you get into the pool but if you sink and drown I’m totally going to pretend I don’t see you. You’re not my problem!” Neglect is probably is the word most apt I think.
My two attempts to enter the world of art had ended in disaster and I was now convinced that I had absolutely nothing to offer the world in the way of art! So I relegated myself to the role of viewer rather than creator. I became a closet artist, an underground artist and not the cool, creating with shame in my room, behind locked doors for “my eyes only”! Cue sad, maudlin music!