30: Punchline #LifeWideLearning16

I used to write music. I used to write poetry. I used to act in plays and perform.

Those things are still with me, but they are not of me. It is not tragic or even really sad that these things are not a part of my life. Because they could be. It is not hard to imagine me sitting down with a guitar and working out a few new songs. It is not a difficult thing to rhyme words on a page or seek out an open mic night. But those things are not part of my life, by choice.

It may be a passive choice, one of attrition, but it is choice nonetheless. I choose to be with my family most nights. I choose to watch television or use my phone to scroll twitter. I choose to blog and make videos. None of these things are artistic, but they do fill up and sustain my life.

I’m reminded of the 1988 movie, “Punchline.”

In this movie, Tom Hanks plays a struggling comedian. I one of his standup performances, he does a bit about every job becoming a “stylist” of some kind. I’m paraphrasing and mashing up a bunch of the statements, but this is how I remember it: “You aren’t a tour guide. You’re a tour stylist. You aren’t a dermatologist. You are a skin stylist. You aren’t a dentist. You are a tooth stylist. You aren’t a hate-monger. You are a hate stylist.”

I do not feel like an artist. I feel like a life stylist.

I can write and create and build new things each day. I am not lacking for creativity or inspiration. I am able to write things that matter to me and share them with the world. I am not limited by any of the constraints of family life because I chose them and I continue to choose them. But, that doesn’t make me an artist. It doesn’t mean that I am dedicating my life to the pure pursuit of artistic expression.

My expression is not limited to a canvas of any kind. In fact, much of my expression comes in the form of my children and their ability to navigate the world and not get angry when things do not go their way. I am so much more proud when my daughter writes poetry than when I do. I am so much more engaged when my wife is taking up acting in a commercial than when I acted in a play.

I am a stylist, and that may make me less of an artist, but it certainly doesn’t make me any less me.

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