Sunday, October 25, 2015

"I Want Your Life!"

Yesterday I taught a writing workshop for young authors, hosted by the Education Nonprofit Corporation and held at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. Mine was the two-and-a-half hour class for eighteen bright, motivated third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. They were a delight.

One of the sweetest moments in this sweet day came when one of the other presenters there stopped me to say that she still remembered a motivational talk I gave for a Society of Children's Book Writers conference well over a decade ago. In that talk I shared how I juggle being a professor of philosophy with being a prolific author of children's books,  with my beloved hourglass as a prop to demonstrate my "hour a day" writing system.

As this person heard my talk, she told herself, "I want this woman's life!" And then she proceeded to go out and get it. She went back to graduate school, earned an advanced degree, teaches classes at CU-Denver, and has published her poetry.

I was touched and thrilled. For I so identify with her desire to change her life on the model of another life she found herself coveting. I do this myself all the time. I even "collect" lives in my little notebook, so I'll have touchstones at the ready for the kind of life I want to live. My motto has long been "Don't envy, emulate."

When I look at the people I most want to be, one commonality is that they all fill their lives with creative joy. In fact, the person I envy most is a fellow writer who has published very little, as she works full-time as a teacher, has a young child, and is pursuing extremely ambitious and complex writing projects. What I envy her for is that she teaches with out-of-the-box originality, mothers with dazzling creative energy, and prioritizes her writing even if she doesn't prioritize seeking publication. I look at her and think, "I want that person's life!" And then I make lists of things I can do to try to come closer to my ideal.

So I'm grateful I got to be a life role model for someone else, as so many other creative souls have been life role models for me.

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