A couple of years ago, I found an old British Vogue magazine that I had bought when I was 18 during my study abroad in France. I opened it up and inside was a piece of binder paper, (when such things still existed) with a list of things I wanted to do with my life. There were three things listed: writing; art; and fashion design. I was surprised to realize they are the same three things I want to do now, over two decades later. I had always thought of myself as someone who didn’t know what I wanted, since I never settled on a particular passion or focus for long, seemingly losing interest in it within a few months. What I noticed now was that I wasn’t losing interest so much as cycling between the three things I wanted to do.
This was a huge wakeup call.
I had always thought I needed to pick something. But now I have decided to do all three, and further, to integrate them. I will sometimes find myself only wanting to write, and nothing else for weeks or months at a time. Then sometimes suddenly or sometimes slowly, I stop wanting to write and I am knitting sweaters and stirring up dyepots. And it’s all I want to do. Then the shift comes again and the dyepots sit dormant while I paint a few paintings or photograph. But what I see now, is that I always come back to every one of those three things. It makes it so much easier to shift between them, since I don’t feel the need to resist the shift as much anymore.
This past year, I began experimenting with integration of the three things. I exhibited art photos of the natural dyes I had been making and wrote about the process, when my focal point was on the art. I wrote a draft of a novel that has an emphasis on natural dyes and art, when my center of attention was on writing. It was fascinating and even cathartic to examine and test some of the possible syntheses of my interests.
It still isn’t easy to let go when I feel the pull to the next thing, but just knowing that it will come back around and can even be integrated into the next focus alleviates some of the habitual anxiety I still have around the shifting. And it has allowed me to work on the things I love with more fulfillment.