I started off as an art major, but somewhere between a college keg party and a southern California beach I veered off my creative path. I clearly remember my art teacher freshman year, a quirky man who rambled about his days as an undergrad at Yale. One day he complimented my painting during class and brought the print making instructor from across the hall to see my work. She insisted I sign up for her class spring semester and I enthusiastically agreed. For reasons I can’t recall, international business or perhaps a life in foreign diplomacy became my goal. I decided to study Mandarin to tap into China’s opening economy. Wading through Chinese classes, model U.N. and a few poli sci courses, I arrived at my final semester short a few units to graduate. So, reluctantly, I signed up for a watercolor painting class.
Surprisingly it was great to be back in the studio. I felt at home but my joy was laced with remorse for abandoning my creative soul. The same instructor who had encouraged me freshman year taught the class and I was relieved he didn’t recognize me. I looked forward to the class every week, showed up early and stayed late. On the final critique day the teacher pulled me aside just as he had four years earlier. In a hushed voice he said, “Don’t you wish you had stuck with it?” My heart sank. I was flattered yet crushed by regret. It was a comment I never forgot.
It took a couple of decades, many jobs, lessons and challenges to find the creative bliss I now enjoy. It is hard to believe my passion was there – right in front of me – all along. True to form, I bravely took life’s scenic route, the treacherous road rarely traveled, stopping not only to smell the roses, but pulling over for every crazy roadside attraction along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing.