I assume everyone who has read/worked through The Artist’s Way has a story of why or how they were brought to it. Here’s mine…
I have a copy of The Artist’s Way copyright 1992, which my sister-in-law, Nikki, gave to me. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe when a book doesn’t have a list of copyright dates that means it was from the printing of the year listed. Thus I believe the copy I have was printed in 1992. I graduated high school in 1992.) When I decided to take this year I thought, hey I’ll finally read The Artist’s Way! I knew I had had it a long time but I wasn’t sure how long until I started reading it, found 2 book marks, did an IMDb search and had dinner with my brother and Nikki.
I started reading it (this time) on March 11, 2012. First I found a ticket stub for The Addiction at the Angelika. I grew up visiting family in New York and then lived there for 5 years after college but I did not recall seeing any films at the Angelika. I guessed it was from Nikki. I checked IMDb and found the film was released in 1995. In 1995 I was still living and going to school in New Mexico. And the film was not familiar to me.
Then I found a bookmark which was far older. It was one of those fantastic ones we gave as gifts with a unicorn and a rainbow on it. In sad little cursive it read “To: Mom From: Nina”. Clearly I had absconded with my mother’s bookmark. The hand writing and the image put it early 80’s. I could only assume I had started reading it and put this marker in. But when? Where was I that I had this book and my mother’s beloved bookmark?
At some point I thought Nikki had given it to me when I moved to Portland in 2001. But why would I have had that bookmark with me in 2001, in Portland? As I read I tried to figure out when I had been given the book.
Slowly I started to realize she must have given it to me when I moved to New York. I moved to New York in 1996. Conveniently I had dinner with Nikki and the family. I showed her the ticket stub. She didn’t recognize it. She assumed it was from the books previous owner, her friend Sarah, who had given it to her. And she agreed she had given it to me in 1996. (Side-note I will return the unicorn/rainbow bookmark to it’s rightful owner this weekend.) That meant I had boxed and moved it 4 times (Forest Hills to the Upper West Side, Upper West Side to Portland, Portland Apartment 1 to Portland Apartment 2, and finally Portland Apartment 2 to Condo.) 4 moves. 4 moves was impressive but what really got me was 16 years. 16 YEARS. (See this is an example of why I wish there were capital numbers. I want that 16 to be bigger, like the all caps “years”. Ah perhaps some day…) 16 years I had had it in my possession, 16 years of talking about it, 16 years of hearing about it, 16 years of promising myself I would read it and finally I was. It was time.
I am a strong believer in things happening when they are supposed to. Probably because for years I lived in a world of regret. Wishing I could go back in time to change my actions. I lived in this world so completely that I got pretty close to believing I could change the past. And so now I believe things happen when they are supposed to, because I have to. I firmly believe I wasn’t ready for The Artist’s Way until now. Maybe I’m right and maybe I’m wrong but I simply can’t let myself think, what if I had done it 16 years ago? What if I had done it 11 years ago? I know myself well enough to know I won’t be able to let that kind of thought go. I’ll fixate on it. So instead, I believe I’m supposed to be doing it now.
I believe I wasn’t ready 16 years ago. And I wasn’t. I was fresh out of school. My little Artist wasn’t blocked, she was ready to go! (Clearly I started it, that’s how my mom’s bookmark got there. She must have left it in the house when she visited at some point between it’s birth in the early 80’s and my placing it between the pages of The Basic Principles and The Basic Tools in 1996.)
I wasn’t ready 11 years ago. I had let the anxiety of supporting myself and the actors strike block my little Artist. But this wasn’t just a block, this was box it up, move across the country and don’t think about it. Don’t even think about letting my little Artist explore. Those 16 years needed to go by for me to be ready.
I started working with a career coach, Jen Anderson, I mentioned I had the book and she strongly recommended I start it. So I did. The next thing I know Jen emails me that Julia Cameron, that author, is being interviewed about her new book and I can sign up to listen and ask questions. So I did. The interview was the 21st. I learned she had been living in New York and was now back in New Mexico. Yes, I realize plenty of people have lived in both states. I still see it as a connection or a coincidence or serendipity. Just like after 16 years I’m reading it and Jen just so happens to be in my life to tell me about the interview.
Tomorrow I will read week 3 (of 12)