on all the things I did not become.
I love to watch shows about fascinating people. I’ve been loving the Abstract series on Netflix about designers from all different fields, from set design, to shoe design, to crazy-amazing-apartment design. I inadvertently begin to imagine myself in their shoes, creating high-stakes projects, having wild ideas I’m not ashamed of + actually ask people to help execute...even walking to a cool office everyday to work from surrounded by inspired and inspiring people! This one always gets me, though, because I do seriously miss having the ability to walk everywhere! Boston, you were so good to me. Atlanta, I still love you...but we need to talk.
Sometimes I take it too far, and usually it’s when something hits a little too close to home. For instance, John + I watched the episode featuring Paula Scher, who evidently has had a hand in creating many of the logos you’d recognize in the world today. She got her start designing some of the most iconic record labels ever, and more recently has become the sweetheart of community theatre in Manhattan...among many, many other things.
Early in the interview, she describes typography as “painting with words”. I looked over at John, and I said, “that’s me! That’s what I do!”. Naturally, I watched the rest of the episode convinced that Paula and I, though she’ll never know it, are soul twins.
Therein lies the problem -- my desire to connect and relate to people is so overdeveloped that it gets me in trouble more often than is reasonable for an adult human. In my rational brain, I know how to talk myself down and put my emotions back in check. But this is of no help when riding a brain wave of irrational nonsense. Sometimes I don’t think there is any way around it but to ride it out, to ask all the crazy questions to nowhere, until something shakes me out of it.
While on this irrational trip, I begin to wonder how it is that if Paula + I are soul twins, then how come I didn’t think to study Graphic Design or Illustration in school? Why didn’t I fight harder to make my way to Manhattan, where they circulate oxygen made of inspiration (and hot dog steam and subway exhaust)? Why do I not get to walk to a beautiful office everyday to work alongside people who are inspiring and inspired?
Last night, John was standing in the kitchen with me as I was grumpily making dinner. He was trying to figure out what was wrong with me, as was I.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked.
I thought about it for a minute before answering.
“I guess I’m just wondering how much I’ll regret not doing something that the world will remember me by.” Yikes, that’s kind of heavy...didn’t realize all that was happening inside? Maybe I need to stop watching these documentaries...
He didn’t miss a beat, though. “Well, do you feel like there’s anything you’re suppose dot be doing that you’re not pursuing now?”
I didn’t have to think as long about this. No. The answer is no.
“No,” I said.
“That’s good. The most important things anyone ever does, the world hardly ever knows about. Now, let me hug you.”
Oh yeah, this is why I married him. He is such a constant for me...he always manages to reign me back in without me even realizing what is happening. And I realized that he’s absolutely right...I wouldn’t trade our life together or the things I have gotten to experience for anything. Not even to walk to a cool, beautiful office everyday.
So, after 24 hours, I am no longer wishing I had become Paula Scher. I am not naive enough to think that this will not happen again, though, which in part is why I am documenting this little moment of groundedness. Each opportunity I have to re-learn that I must find ground to plant my feet on I count as a blessing, a little saving grace for the next moment when I feel cut adrift forever.
I don’t know how much any of this will resonate with you. I do know that I feel a shade embarrassed to admit all of it, which leads me to believe I ought to share it. I also know that I am strongly considering calling myself an “abstract typography artist” now, empowered by Paula’s implied blessing. I know it’ll drive all the typographists + typography snobs nuts...but I’m at peace with that.
Here’s to all the things we did not become, in favor of the things we did.