I grew up in Lebanon at a time when people didn’t have much understanding about art and were bullied for being Artists. As a child and later as a teenager I had this passion and love for writing and writers. But I never dared talk about it to anyone.
I remember how when I was in elementary school I would scribble in my notebook and create characters and write stories and make it seem like I was taking notes during class. I remember how happy I was and how scared to be caught and my secret revealed. The smell of ink on paper, the magic of those words on the page. It was as if I was living in a different world. An exquisite and happier world. To quote Alain Arias-Misson:
“The purpose of art is not a rarified, intellectual distillate- it is life, intensified, brilliant life.”
My biggest fear at the time was to get caught writing for the only reason that my classmates and my teachers would make fun of me. Which they did anyway, not for writing though. My friends teased me for taking notes, calling me the teacher’s pet, saying I wanted to impress my teachers.
I never got caught. But at the same time I carried this burden in my heart and I could not share my dream with anyone around me.
Years went by and I met my husband-to-be in university. He was done with his studies but was having his first solo exhibition as an artist in Jafet Hall in the library (at the request of his teacher). He told me about his dreams as an artist. He also told me about his days in elementary school. He told me how one day when he had drawn something abstract for class his art teacher had slapped him in the face and scolded him in front of everyone. And he had never attempted to show his paintings to anyone after that until his exhibition.
Brenda Ueland writes:
“Why should we use our creative power…? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.”
Things have changed since then. There’s much more understanding about the arts and about peoples’ dreams as there is a greater appreciation for artists. No matter how busy we are working and supporting ourselves and our families we should always listen to that inner voice of ours and never despair. I was lucky to have a “believing mirror” in my husband, as Julia Cameron calls it. And I am glad I held on to my dream no matter what. Jalaai Ud-Din Rumi wrote:
“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about… Say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe.”