My father died nine years ago, rather suddenly, leaving a mess behind that was hard to recover from. My way of coping with the disconnect between who I thought he was and who he turned out to be has pretty much been to just cut out that part of my life.
It meant a re-invention of sorts, which was good: I had to become a lot more conscious about who I thought I was. But it also meant a loss, and I've always wondered if there would ever come a time when I could allow myself access again to some of those childhood illusions.
So it was with some surprise and a bit of a smile that I heard echoes of his voice yesterday. Not that I really liked what it had to say, but still... My father had a way of noticing me. Which can, of course, be a mixed blessing when you're growing up. But he had a sort of "I calls 'em as I sees 'em" stance that was refreshing, if irritating at times. And, of course, like any human being, what he saw was always interpreted through the particular lens of his own experience.
Not having any sisters of his own, and being married to a very determinedly non-feminine feminist wife, he saw all the girlish aspects of me as "flibbertigibbet," and clearly longed for me to be more sober and steady than I was. Looking at that now, I see it is that voice in me that demands that my time be spent productively, that sees art as a bit of a waste, that wants me -- if I AM going to create art -- to commit to some aspect of it instead of constantly chasing after new possibilities. And can you see that all that means -- if I listen -- that I am never quite... enough.
So it's both good that I set that voice aside for a while, and good that I can finally hear it again and identify its source; can choose to listen -- or not -- from a more conscious place inside, rather than allowing the constant undertones to undermine me without understanding its origins.
What I find particularly amusing this morning is that I created this image before I was reminded of my father -- and I remember thinking, as I was creating it, how odd it was, that the girl is so narrowly defined, and trapped, and the man, so sober and serious, guarding her (and is that protection, or keeping her from escaping?) is himself a bit of a fool...
Perhaps what I'm saying here is that we need to go through those disconnected periods, to create a little empty space in our lives from those negative voices, in order to gain a little perspective...