When I was in my early 20s, I handmade a gift for my mom. A calligraphed quote housed in a 5×7 frame. She said she loved it and kept it on her nightstand.
Thirty years later, I clean out her garage and find the gift in a broken cardboard box sandwiched among magazines whose subscriptions have long since expired. There’s a crack in the glass, rendering the frame unusable.
My 55-year-old self understands a mother can’t keep every piece of art made by her offspring, but my 25-year-old inner child pouts at the perceived rebuff.
Did Mom’s discarding a gift I made for her represent a rejection of my artistic ability?
Of course not, the adult me reasons. But there’s a flash of childhood insecurity and it taints rationale.
I show it to her, and she doesn’t remember where it came from, so I toss it in the trash bin. Before I go home, though, I rifle through and retrieve it.
I smoothed the paper and studied the brush strokes. Remembered making it. The effort to emulate the guidebook and get each letter just right. Being amazed how the hours disappeared while creating. How uncritical I was of the finished piece.
Somewhere along my art journey, I made the mistake of relying on other’s opinions to validate my work.
So I keep this piece of abandoned art as a message from the past to a future me. When I open the drawer it’s in, I see a reminder it’s better if you make art because you love doing it. It’s important to create for the sake of creating. No one else’s approval need matter.
This is the 18th story in the Objects as Waypoints Writing Project series.