A smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road.
A bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road.
A rough road, a rough road, a rough road, a rough road . . .
Hardly a week goes by that I don’t recite this rhyme in one library storytime or another. I pull such rhymes from my memory reflexively, and rarely think about their words any more. Yet, events over the last week have brought this particular rhyme to mind repeatedly in the wider context of my life.
My life over the last year has taken on a galloping pace of development and growth. Opportunities have abounded, and for every month that has passed, I have been grateful to have a quantity of good news to share. I tend to train my focus on the positive, the good things that happen, and to downplay the difficult with anyone other than my closest family and friends. Because of that tendency, some people have fallen into the mistaken belief that only good things happen in my life.
The last week has proven the falsehood in that belief. The week has, thankfully, been an unusual one that has brought some sizable disappointments and a fogged mirror held to my talents that has reflected painfully back to me. In three different fields this week, my work and I have been tested against the work of peers. Three times in the last week, my work and I have been found wanting in some way, and I have faced rejection over things that meant a great deal to me. Confidence-robbing insights took the legs out from under me in a thankfully rare and unusual way. Rejection is not a thing I’ve ever been able to take well, and it tends to drive me within and make me question myself deeply. A quiet day of reflection has permitted me to regain perspective and to adjust my focus. And again, the rhyme comes to mind.
A smooth road is a welcome thing. Yet I understand something better at this time in my life than at any other. It takes the bumpy roads and the rough roads to appreciate the smoothness of that stretch of road when it comes. After a day of wallowing in self recrimination and low spirits, my naturally bouyant spirits bob to the surface once again. All is not a smooth road of continual achievement for me, and I think it is perhaps time to let people see that. Indeed, the overall trend is upward, but as in all things worth achieving, every incremental rise is hard won through trial and error, attempt and failure, learning and growth and trying again.
I am left facing an important question: Will I alter my creative practise or indeed my creative voice to fit in with what is deemed ‘acceptable’ by these contingents of the creative world? I honestly don’t think so. I have my truth to tell, I have my stories to tell in forms of expression that are meaningful for me. Perhaps I chose channels that were not the right channels for me or my work. But I cannot and will not simply dismiss their reasoning as defective in some way. I will learn what I can from the experiences, I will grow and develop my skills, my creative vision and voice and my practise. Perhaps I will try again, and perhaps I will move on. But every day, I maintain a grateful heart for the gift of every road . . . the smooth road, the bumpy road and the rough road.