Today as I sit here, I wonder how a time could exist where I didn't create daily. I sincerely cringe at the thought. I cringe at the thought that it happened, and I fear for the idea of history ever possibly repeating itself.
For those of you who don't know me, my names Cait (Hey, Hi, Hello!) I'm a long Island based Artist. For those of you who know me well, you know art is my bread & water. What few may know is art was something I once lost, and it was far from home for years.
You see, according to my mom I've been drawing on rocks since the age of 3. I've been drawing, splashing, painting, sculpting, & scotch-taping since forever. It's been the only constant in my life. A friendship I've always felt around me, a relationship that I never feared the end of. A surface that would never offer judgment, only possibilities.
Throughout my life so far Art has offered me a place to be my most authentic self. Every creation is an active diary entry. A visual representation of every fear, joy, and imaginative thought I've had or experienced. Through the usage of symbolism, and hidden imagery I was aloud as a teen to say what I was thinking & feeling. But back then I never offered anyone the translation. It was a closed topic between myself and the painting. For me to know, and everyone else to wonder. I created in this method for years. Until one day, I took a plane trip.
I know we've briefly discussed this place in articles past. But for the first time viewer, the thing you need to know is Peru's significance in my life. I lived here volunteering with a humanitarian organization. In a nutshell, it opened my eyes. Beyond what words could possibly describe I found my true self along with the world around me. I experienced great triumphs and true losses.
During my time in Peru, I was constantly bombarded by locals with the question
"What is your passion?" Mind you: During this time I am Twenty Two years old. I am in college, completely clueless. And the only passion I ever had of being an Artist? Welp. That has been beaten, bruised, and tainted. Because I learned from society ( and began to believe) how being practical, is better than being extravagant and daring.
I walked a lot. To this day I am convinced the miles I walked on Peru's dirt roads saved my life. Dramatic? Perhaps, but I support glitter tossing. I walked the streets of Urubamba daily, to work, social gatherings, the plaza, the market, Spanish Class. I watched and observed the world around me (not driving a car at 65 mph allows you to do so).
Every day I was greeted by strangers, I remember because I recall thinking how bizarre it was. I love New York, and will always be a proud New Yorker at heart. However, something we lack here can be learnt. Sharing. But sharing isn't necessarily about physical objects. While in Peru, I learned how to share a smile with someone across the room. How to share a seat on the bus. How to make someone feel noticed by greeting them with "Good Morning!" Sharing kindness & vulnerability leads to connection. We all know, there is nothing more powerful than true human connection. There is great value in this.
Weeks of walking connected me with a man named Jopa. I was warned by my homestay family not to talk to him as he was "dirty". Sadly I discovered the homeless, helpless, and unfortunates across contents are not honored as equals. I spoke with Jopa anyway. He was a harmless homeless man with much to say, and no one to listen. Jopa was extremely intelligent, inquisitive, and very thoughtful. We met almost every day in the plaza after lunch. We always sat on the same bench under the biggest Palm Tree with the massive fronds. Jopa and I talked about life, love, literature, art, and the stars.
Everyday this lonely man reminded me of the joys in life. More, the joy of being alive. All the little things we miss along the way. He constantly reminded me to slow down. Be where you currently are and engage with the world around you. But above all, Jopa's ultimate wish was for change in the world. Make it kinder, make it better. He believed everyone on earth plays a part. We are in this magical play together, and what we contribute to each other is the script we create. Work together, love people, take care of the Earth. Write a better story, because we all have the ability to do so within. To this day my greatest moments of passion, purpose, and desire are some of Jopa's shared words.
I could stop the story here.
I could tell you-
"ohhhh I went on this magical trip and I learned about life and art and all this crap and now my life is perfect."
Or, I could tell you the truth. Tell you I learned all of these amazing things, and then I came home and somehow forgot them all. I could tell you that I didn't forget them. But I walked back into society and realized everything, was for nothing. Because American Society is not Peruvian Society. I discovered:
My newfound identity just wasn't the rite attire for this party.
I will tell you, I stuffed all of Jopa's dreams, my dreams, and I put them in my pocket for another day. Except that other day lasted for five years. Because I didn't know how to be the free spirit girl who lived on Mariscal y Castilla who was an Artist from NY. Instead, I became an intricate cog in corporate America. I worked 16 hour days and poured myself into a career not truly meant for me. I rarely had family or personal time, and I didn't pick up a paintbrush for years.
That's what actually happened.
What changed? To be honest I experienced the grief of losing someone very important to me. My Aunt Maggie was and always will be my grandest inspiration. She was a lively woman, who marched to the beat of her own creative drum. She was dazzling, energetic, kind hearted, entertaining, and truly inspiring. After a long brave battle with Multiple Myeloma, my family lost Magic Maggie in 2014. Life became too short to wait, and procrastinate. I became determined to make changes, and walk down a path unknown. I felt an inner responsibility to carry on her legacy. Maggie changed everything.
I left the big corporation in hopes of restoring my faith in humanity and reconnecting with a job of higher moral value. I was emotionally, and physically drained. And I was tired of waking up every day without feeling like I had a higher purpose. I desired contributing something grander to the world.
For the next 5 years I worked as an Assistant Teacher at a school for special needs children. It was beyond challenging, and the pay was nothing to brag about. But I quickly became rich, but not in a monetized sense. I observed as these children came to school every day. Climbing obstacles, tackling tasks that challenged them beyond measures. These kids were absolutely AMAZING. They dove into the unknown willingly, fearless of failure. Their courage and endless effort sparked something inside me. I was fortunate enough along the way to incorporate Art projects, drawing lessons, and creative collaborations between students.
I witnessed the joy and confidence self expression brought the kids. I fell in love with these children, year after year. Ultimately I was reminded of what bravery truly looks like. The kids inspired me to pick back up that paintbrush. I began to paint again, and create whenever I could catch a minute to myself.
I stalked out Barnes & Nobles every day. I probably owe them money for all the books I read for free. Reading anything I cold get my hands on. I eventually taught my self how to operate professional Adobe Softwares. I studied youtube videos, blog posts, and engulfed every art related article available on the web. I spent months saving my pennies for the latest technology.
If I was going to do this, I wasn't going to do it half-assed. After two years of saving I started investing in my passion. I purchased a New Computer, Ipad, professional softwares, professional grade paints & canvases. I was committed & determined. I began taking classes in small business & Graphic Design. I am beyond excited for the next chapter and all that lies ahead.
Today I create full time! I find true authentic happiness in creating empowering pieces. I desire to encourage people to chase their dreams... even if it may be outlandish. I am grateful for the beautiful people who have continued to help steer me in the right direction. I am aware that not everyone in life is lucky enough to have this. So for them, I am here! You are wonderful, unique, and I believe in the wild possibility that is you. I in no means have life figured out. But what I do know for sure? Everyone has a purpose on this planet. I hope with all my might that you go find yours. I'll be rooting for you.
Go Get 'em Tiger!