I am an artist?

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I’ve finally said to myself “I’m an artist!” Until this point I’ve created and appreciated and loved art, I’ve dabbled whenever I had a few hours, getting lost in the work and forgetting to eat (can you believe it!!?!) and that I was sitting awkwardly and that my leg was asleep. Yet, I didn’t think much of it. Until this point I had considered myself first and foremost an athlete, with some admittedly random hobbies on the side.

Until this point my concept of “me” has consisted of one big jar with everything track related in it, and several little colourful jars scattered about, including the little arty fella. I try to keep my world label-free because things simply are and they shouldn’t be simplified any more than that; simplification destroys the essence of things. But having a dozen unlabeled jars around can be very confusing.

My categorizing mind has been persistently bugging me to claim an identity, to throw out a few jars or at least put a couple words to them. This voice, once happy to get caught up in the moment along with the rest of me – satisfied that this moment was exactly who I was – is now pressing harder for tangible answers. I am faced with a desire to communicate who I am and what I care about in order to invite others to join me in my Olympic journey.

Finally, I sat down to write out who I thought I was:

An athlete. Curious. Creative.

The word flow halted. This was hard. I stewed over the task for a while. Suddenly I realized something. I am, in this moment, that which I most wanted to be. Never mind who I thought I was, “who do I most want to be” is easy to answer! I quickly added:

Intuitive. Generous. Joyful. Unafraid to stand out. An artist.

The last one surprised me. I still don’t know what being an artist truly means, but I am quite certain that I want to be one. My athletic goals are of utmost importance to me, but I am beginning to understand that I need to create and let my hands listen to my heart while my eyes and calculating brain simply watch on, rather astonished.

I quickly transferred what was in my little arty jar to a much bigger container, and went out to the woods to find some more to add to it. Then I began adding the contents of other smaller jars, in fact every other smaller jar. Then the other big jar. Then I fixed a sticker on this new crazy swirling conglomeration and wrote, “Jen Cotten”.

I’m kind of back where I started, with no idea how to describe myself. But at least I have a few more tools with which to try!


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