All the good things.

Most of this was written BEFORE Thanksgiving, but here it is a week or so late. In my defense, I made it through NaNoWriMo successfully, turned another year older, and had several other big things between then and now.

I didn’t deliberately intend to do a “gratitude for Thanksgiving” post, it just kinda turned out that way. No, really! The idea for today’s post came in part on the heels of a cartoon I saw around Facebook a few weeks ago.

Image used with permission from Doug Savage.
It made me think that for all the gripes and challenges the creative life involves, I would not trade it for the world. I’m grateful for all the things it’s brought me, but also for all the things it’s cost me – because I learned from them.

I give thanks to my past self, for not giving up, for what must be hundreds of thousands of sketches, hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper, hundreds of gallons of ink and paint, a few thousand of brushes, barrels full of pencil shavings and eraser dust, and so much more. I’m grateful for all those tools and supplies for being there and being part of the process.

Thanks to the inclination to doodle, I had an easier time studying and recalling my notes – “I drew an alien spaceship while we discussed Mannerism” type stuff.

With great gratitude to my ability to visualize, I have a better time knowing where the heck I am, both with maps & geography and with landmarks. I’ve come to realize not everyone has this, and I wonder how they got around before GPS systems & smartphone apps.

The power of visualization has also helped me as a writer as I work in details to convey the mood of a scene.

I’m very grateful for having the supplies and the tenacity to paint hundreds (probably more) of bamboo strokes on newsprint until I got the hang of it. Same for plum blossoms, orchids and chrysanthemum.

I’m grateful I’ve had plenty of rice paper to ruin even after I got the hang of it.

I give thanks to all the teachers I’ve had – Not just for the ones who saw talent in me and pushed me towards developing it, but also for those who didn’t think I was “all that.” They taught me the subjective aspects of art, that not everyone “gets it” in the same way, and not everyone likes the same things.

I am also grateful – tho’ I may not like it much, for all the misunderstandings about art, artists, and attitudes towards sharing and compensation, particularly in this day and age and with tools like the internet. It’s taught me patience and required me to have a sense of humor sometimes.

Thanks to the opportunities I’ve had, I’ve been able to see and study art and to develop myself as an artist.

I’m grateful for the cats who mostly keep themselves to the sidelines. Well, sort of mostly. The keep to themselves mostly when I fill the sidelines with cat beds & comfy things, and keep my keyboard under a shelf so they don’t walk on it as much. We’re still working on the paint area.

I have unlimited gratitude for all the amazing art I’ve seen, all the art the world has to offer, in all its crazy shapes and forms. The world is built on creativity. Thanks to the internet, everyone can share their artwork with the world should they wish. I am grateful for those generous artists, musicians, storytellers and more, for letting us glimpse their gifts.

I’m grateful that it always gives me something unusual to talk about, something more interesting than the weather or the sports scores or last night’s TV. Not that there’s anything wrong with those! But for me, I can only take them in limited doses.

I give thanks for how creativity helps me process emotions, trauma, grief, and more. Whenever I’ve experienced a loss, creativity has been a key part of processing the event.

From when my beloved Buckaroo opted out a few weeks shy of his 19th birthday. He’d inspired a series of radioactive cats, so I used that style to honor him.
Thinking Different
I was working for Apple at the time of Steve Jobs’ death, and had just received my 5-year service award maybe two weeks earlier – among the last batch to feature Steve’s signature.

I’m grateful that my creativity hangs around like an old friend, I’m never alone. It reminds me when I’ve been neglecting it too long, and we get back together and suddenly everything falls back into place.

My creativity has taught me how to take a punch, to hear and see the truth in good criticism, and to recognize and encourage the creativity in others.

It can be hard to be a creative person, but I would not have it any other way. Because honestly, it’s a lot harder to pretend to be something else.

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