Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Be Ordinary

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an Hour

William Blake (1757-1827) (English poet, painter and engraver) is one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism. He emphasized individual, imaginative, visionary and emotional creativity. He privileged imagination over reason in the creation of both his poetry and images, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature but from inner visions. He declared in one poem, “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.”

When I was a teenager my father gave me the talk. Not the one on sex, the one on being an individual. I remember his words like he spoke them yesterday and I am sure I might have dared to roll my eyes like my daughters did when I gave them the same speech. “If your friends jumped off the roof, would follow them? Be an individual, be unique and do what you think is best for you.” I’m not sure he didn’t regret these words at some time in his life because I took them literally and have never followed the crowd.

What I get from Blake’s thoughts is that you should create what’s important to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s writing a story, picking up a paint brush, taking photos, creating quilts, putting together culinary delights, etc. Creativity is the key. Learn who you are. Do something that makes you unique. Don’t mindlessly follow the crowd. After you are gone, it will be your legacy - an inheritance for your children and friends.

I grew up in a home where artistic talent was everywhere. My mother was not only an award-winning oil painter, but taught herself to play the organ and also sewed and did needle work. My daughter Kellie inherited her painting talent. Having their artwork proves Blake’s theory. They are no longer with us, but their essence is. I take great comfort in that.

When I make a personalized quilt each one grows from my own creativity. I can’t explain the joy I receive in making them and then hearing the squeal, feel the hug, or see the happy tears when they are received. My stories aren’t published yet. When they are, I’ll have a second contribution to romanticism. I love that word now that I know what it means. I’m searching for more ways to use it now.

Have you thought about how unique you are and what you are leaving as your legacy?

19 comments:

Mona Risk said...

Paisley,
Your post is an amazing inspiration. Your books like your quilts will be appreciated and treasured. My father gave me a talk about achieving what I started, persevering until I reach success. I never thought about what my legacy would be to my children and the world. Your quilts are gorgeous. I hope that one day I may have one especially made by you.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks, Mona. They way you are releasing books, I don't think we have that long of a wait. William Blake's words really stuck with me and I've tried to pass them on to my daughter. She really surprises me with her writing talent - I am sure she could be a great writer when inspired.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Marlene, what an interesting post. I never thought of my talents being viewed as my legacy. Let's hope they mean as much to my kids then, as they do now. :-)

Thanks for a great article.

Cai said...

Paisley, an amazing post and very thought provoking...

My dad didn't ever give me "the talk," but I did get the single eyebrow raising when he felt I was "veering from the path." He did, however, instill in me from a very young age that following my own life path was the most important thing I could do - despite critics telling me what I wanted wasn't what I should do...

I hope - and pray - that I have allowed my own daughter to be the individual she was meant to be without stifling her creativity in any way. Only time will tell, however...

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks Cai. I've met your daughter and think you've done a wonderful job with her!!!

My daughter amazes me sometimes and I watch her mature with pride.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I am trying this again, Mona. I look forward to making your book cover quilt. The way you are writing and publishing these days, it probably won't be as long as you imagine. Giving quilts away is a great legacy especially when the babies grow up and still love to snuggle in them.

Marilu Mann said...

Testing a new comment format. Paisley, great post!

Anita Clenney said...

What an inspiring post. We are all so similar in our need for the basics, food, water, shelter, but beyond that we are each unique in our talents and dreams, even our faults. This has prompted me to think more on what exactly I am leaving as a legacy and if it's what I want to be remembered for.Thanks for making me think!

Jill James said...

Wow, I hadn't thought of my writing quite that way yet. Right now, my children and my grandchildren are my legacy. My grandson is the apple of my eye. He has autism and I know in my heart he was meant for greatness. I don't know what or who he'll be in the future, but it will be great.

Joanne said...

As Jill mentioned, my children are my legacy. Hopefully they will share my values and continue to lead rewarding, creative lives.

Anne-Marie said...

Paisley, your post was so inspiring. My Daddy, Mommy, and Grammy were my push to doing what I wanted to do and be who I wanted to believe. I can't believe how many years ago that was.

And you, my darlin', are extremely talented and creative. :)

Lisa Dale said...

Inspiring words, Paisley! Thank you.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lisa. :)

Natasha Moore said...

Great post, Paisley. I've always encouraged my children to be individuals and it's been great seeing them develop into themselves. And we have to remember that we're their role models.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

You're so right, Natasha. I knew from childhood that my father was a very wise man. His favorite retort when I questioned his idea that it is best to be myself is "If everyone else jumped off the roof, would you jump, too?" I have never forgotten in all the years since. He was a great role model and I know how lucky I was to have him.

Cynthia Owens said...

Paisley, what a lovely post! My father always told us to be ourselves, and if other people didn't like it ... well, let's just say he was a great one for individuality. Reading your post brought back memories of the wonderful talks we had on so many subjects. Dad's been gone for 3 1/2 years, and I miss him still. He was never ordinary, and I hope I've lived up to his example.

I hope my books reflect that individuality, too. I never followed any trends, but wrote from my heart what I needed to write.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Cynthia, I think as long as you are true to yourself you can't go wrong. I sometimes wonder if my Dad thought I was too much an individual sometimes. :)

Pat McDermott said...

I enjoyed your post, Paisley. I always taught my children not to follow the crowd. Both are artists in their own way, creative and well able to think "outside the box." I hope my own creative endeavors, mainly the stories I've written, will make them and their children remember me kindly some day. Thanks for the inspiring words!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks, Pat. With so many trying to be and look like everyone else today, I think it is important to show our individualism.