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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Let me tell you a story about moving past limitations (Revised 5/3/12)

 This image of rapper-singer Drake is taken from an anonymous source on Facebook. Copyright is granted in full to the original owner of the image.

How many times in our lives have we intended to do something? We say, "I meant to do this, but I didn't because…." We make excuses as to why we can't accomplish a given goal or why it'll just be too hard to complete or even try to do that which we always wanted to do. I am no exception to this rule. For years, I never tried drawing or painting because I assumed my hands were too spastic from my Cerebral palsy. For the same reason, I never learned to play Jazz piano, or how to rock on the guitar.

But one day, at the age of 15 in the 10th grade, fate would seem to strike me the face with an opportunity. You see, for some odd reason, my guidance counselor thought it would be prudent judgment to put me in a technical drawing class rather than an art class because of my disability. Somehow she seemed to think that rigid rules, rulers, wedges, compasses, lined graph paper and the rest would be easier for me to handle than a basic studio art class.  So, after about a week of being bored by drawing straight lines with rulers, I opted instead to take Studio Art with Ms. Wheeler -- a choice I credit with encouraging me to explore my creativity more than I ever had in the past. I had written poetry and short stories, tinkered with computers and all that. But in my mind, I was limited by something I had no control over. But as I would later discover, I was, in truth, very literally "disabled" by my own thinking.

When I first entered the class I felt immediately at ease with Ms. Wheeler. She was an upbeat, jovial woman seemingly in her late 20s who told us all that she didn't believe in people who couldn't be creative. So she started us out randomly enough by drawing tree bark. She told us to look at the lines and contours and to carefully examine each bit of the tree and really pay attention to the tinniest details. Somehow by doing this, breaking down the lines into smaller, more manageable pieces, the lines seemed so much more accessible, even easy for me. Ms. Wheeler would then send us all home with a sketchbook to draw everything from telephones, pets and simple versions of human faces for the entire school year. I went on that year to draw monochromatic still lifes, to create abstract tissue paper tapestries and even create one watercolor painting that seemed to remind one administrator of a Salvador Dali piece. I went on even further in my remaining high school years to take up courses in black-and-white photography, drama/improvisational acting and even international cooking. But none of this would've been possible without someone like Ms. Wheeler to show me how to think beyond my limitations. For this much I say thank you to Ms. Wheeler, wherever she may be now.

Today, I take that creativity with me and so many lessons learned from people like Ms. Wheeler. Since graduating over a decade ago, I've discovered several hobbies and abilities. I stuck with my poetry and have expanded it into new forms and I'm now writing with greater depth and intensity at 31 and I ever thought I could at the green and often unripened age of 15. I began taking on music in the form of DJing in my early undergraduate years for friends, relatives and neighbors. For a moment I tinkered with the idea of doing Hip Hop mixtape of my original raps; and I only stopped because I realized that the life of a rapper was not something I wanted. But, as funny as it may seem, I am absolutely convinced beyond all doubt that had I pursued it, rapping could've taken me to some very interesting places in my life.

In the same creative vein so to speak, I began thinking of a screenplay idea and eventually  would become fleshed out more and more in a screenwriting class in 2006. I'm still working on this. I also began a freelance writing career in 2007, built a portfolio by 2009 and by 2011, I moved into the realm of promotional work for everything from a performing arts studio to an interior design blog. At present, I'm still freelancing and promoting while being 25% owner of the novelty store Also, my recent editing adventure with author Andre Burrell, The Fight Versus Reality, is now available at Amazon.

The moral: You are not as limited as you might think you are.

Roll on!

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