Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Graduation Speech


It's the middle of May, so it must be graduation time.


Commencement addresses flowed like the Platte River in spring the past few weekends in my neck of the woods, and probably yours too. Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Mr. President himself, and even Laura Bush shared pep talks and snippets of wisdom to the new Grown Ups.

Wanna hear mine?

Based on what I've learned the past couple of years being a solo-preneur (that's like being a one- man band for those of you who aren't up on the new lingo), and based on what I've learned in 60 days of daily painting, my graduation address would sound like this:

Show Up.


And after the applause dies down a bit, I'd add: Ready to Work.

Since I've declared my status as a full-time working artist, I've learned that in order to accomplish . . . well . . . anything, a person absolutely must Show Up.


I'm painting 100 5 x 7 paintings in 100 days, as you know. All the fancy-pants ideas and materials and brushes and witty blog posts do not accomplish 100 paintings in 100 days (nor anything else that comes with living on Planet Earth). Showing Up does.

Showing Up puts you in a position to confront life as it is right now. Not as you want it to be, not as your coach told you it would be, and not as your Mom or Dad threatened it would be, but as it is right now. Look closely. Satisfied?


The second part is Ready to Work. Showing Up gets you there in the right place. At this point Showing Up is simply potential, like squatting into the starting blocks of an 800 meter dash. Bending down and shaking out your ankles and calves and getting that mean look on your face is all fine and dandy, and may even impress someone, but are you prepared to blast out of the blocks and run hard for a very long time when the gun goes off? If you haven't done the work you might just dive right onto your nose. Wouldn't that be classy.

Ready to Work means sticking with whatever you're doing until you're satisfied. Ready to Work means willing to look like a dork for awhile until you figure out exactly what you are supposed to accomplish. Ready to Work means searching out answers. Ready to Work means finding mentors and taking advice and putting their offerings into action.
You'll have to put off some of the fun stuff probably, because you'll have committments to those mentors and advisors, and yourself.
But that's cool because it won't be long before Showing Up Ready to Work becomes the fun stuff.

I promise.

So to Brian, and Kayla and Courtney and all you other immensely talented graduates out there, the world is your oyster - if you Show Up Ready to Work.
How will you show up?

Top: Day 45 Concrete River 2009 5 x 7 oil on gessoed board
Middle: Day 57 First Light Heifer 2009 5 x 7 oil on gessoed board
Bottom Day 63 More Peonies 2009 7 x 5 oil on gessoed board
Banner Day 62 Peonies 2009 7 x 5 oil on gessoed board

1 comment:

Diane Hoeptner (hep-ner) said...

LOVE this post, love your blog. You are an awesome painter!