In the summer of 2005 I had decided to leave my corporate graphic design career in the suburbs of Boston and move to northern Maine to dedicate myself to making art. That may seem like a a crazy or impetuous decision, but I was in a very good place spiritually and felt, although I had some doubts (mostly due to fear), I was convinced that I was following the path that the universe had laid before me.
One saturday morning, after picking my then four-year-old daughter up from an overnight stay at my parents’ house, I stopped to see my dear friend Robert Pierce, whose two daughters were (and still are) close friends with mine. As the girls played in the back yard, Rob and I stood on the deck enjoying some excellent Pierce Bros. coffee and savoring the gorgeous summer morning weather. Rob looked up into the sky and pointed out a barely discernible eagle, circling high above us. He said that it had been hanging around the neighborhood in recent days. I couldn’t help but marvel at the eagle and its ability to spot prey on the ground from such an altitude.
After we left Rob’s house, I took my daughter to the Worcester Ecotarium, an indoor/outdoor science and nature museum that I hadn’t visited since I was a child. I parked the car in the main lot, from which we had to walk uphill on a path through a wooded area that led to the main entrance of the building. At the base of the path, I was surprised to see a cage containing two eagles. I looked at the eagles in their cage and thought about how safe they were and how all of their needs were being met. They were sheltered from the weather, fed every day, and would be provided with medical care as soon as the need might arise. I couldn’t help but ponder the contrast with the eagle that I had seen earlier that morning – who woke up every morning having no idea where its next meal might come from and yet, every day it managed to find food. In its natural state, soaring amongst the clouds, the universe provided for it and it lived without fear, even though there were no guarantees as to its safety.
I saw this experience as a sign that my decision to exchange the apparent safety provided by a good job, a nice home in a densely populated suburb, and the support systems offered by living in close proximity to numerous family members and friends for an old farmhouse in the sparsely populated, impoverished no-man’s land of northern Maine, where I didn’t know a soul was the right one. I was the eagle in the cage, but I belonged in the sky.
The reality is, no matter how safe we might think we are, safety is ultimately an illusion. Unforeseen circumstances could turn our lives upside down in an instant. Every morning that we awake to a new day is none short of a miracle. If we’re going to live a truly fulfilling life, we have to be able to take risks and have the courage to live with uncertainty, especially if we want to bring anything creative into this world. As the Roman philosopher Tacitus observed, “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.”
I am a full time artist, originally from Massachusetts, currently living in northern Maine. I work primarily in oils and pastel, and occasionally watercolor. I offer instruction in drawing and painting at my studio, which is in an old renovated potato barn. Please feel free to view samples of my work (You can see a larger version of each picture if you click on it.) and leave a comment if you are so inclined. Be sure to click the "Older Posts" button at the bottom to see more work. I don't always have time to respond to comments, but if you wish to correspond with me, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org