I had this thought the other day: This is the renaissance of my life.
I am learning about music that I like, music that is out there, music that I want to sing along to. Music I want to dance to and music that dances with me. Music that makes me cry, and some that makes me smile involuntarily.
I am making art. All kinds of art. My finger nails have charcoal dust under them that will not come out with one or two washings. Charcoal similarly cakes itself into the cracks of my hands that are drying out from how often I’m washing them. My leggings have varnish on them from the bench I stained. My shoes have sawdust in them from sawing the wood for that bench. My table has sticky sections of it from glue that ran away and off the page. My walls are lined with blank canvases and empty picture frames leaning up against them, waiting to be filled with what I create.
I am writing. Sometimes even poetry. My blog and my journal give testament to the words that come from my pen, from my keys, from my pain and my hope.
I am reading again. Everything from Chelsea Handler, to biographies of Napoleon, to Calvin & Hobbes, to Dan Brown mysteries, to Hemingway and Austen.
I am learning again. Not just about art and technique, but languages — I’m learning Italian and I’m loving it. I’m eager for the knowledge and the application.
And I’m curious (as I have always been, but still) about history. I want to know more.
I’ve asked myself, “why?” Why am I doing these things? Why am I making these changes? Am I just now really discovering who I am? The typical 20s self-discovery thing?
When I’m honest, the answer is “no.” I’ve known who I am for many years now. I am not just now figuring out what I like and who I am. The fact is that what I like and who I am is changing.
I had a hunch, and in doing some brief research, I found that I was right…
The Renaissance of the 14-16th centuries started right after the black plague hit the European continent.
The “Rebirth” came out of death. Out of loss. Out of panic. Out of the forceful need to move on from “old normal”.
I am being re-born. That’s what renaissance means: rebirth. But why? Why now? Why change?
Because I lost everything. The town, the church, the friends, the family, the job, the daily activities, the passion.
Because it was time for new. There was no choice in it.
Because I am coming out of my own years of black plague. Of death. Of loss. I have emerged from my dark ages, and I, while the same person, am discovering new things, am developing new interests.
And what started out as writing to just get my thoughts on page, turned into the desire to tell a story, to relate to the common human things that we all experience. A story-teller re-born, with more freedom to tell the stories that ring true.
What started as writing poems because I needed some short form to get my words out turned into becoming a private poet. Writing poems down on napkins and in “notes” in my phone — when I’m at a stoplight, when I’m running and pause for breath, when I’m trying to sleep, when I am just so sad or so happy and I have to let it out of me, there comes words in verse, lines in waves — a poem is breathed. A poet is birthed.
To be embarrassingly honest, I started making art recently as a way to avoid something I needed to write that I knew would be emotionally exhausting and difficult. Every time I had time to write it, I’d create a charcoal artwork instead. Beauty from ashes before my eyes. I knew it would die down once the need for avoiding responsibilities was gone — but I was wrong. The desire to create is even stronger now. An artist has been born in me.
And what started as listening to music while I journaled grew into a hunger for music. I want to hear more. I even want to make music again. I don’t know how or if that will happen, but there is still plenty of time to change and discover.
I am being reborn. I am coming alive again. And I don’t know what my new passion will be. Where my new path will take me. But maybe it will take me many places: Jane of all trades, master of none. I have peace about not knowing, and joy at the thought of the journey to find out.
Maybe I am meant to be a renaissance woman, after all.
Joanna O’Hanlon is an adventurer and story-teller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.
Other places are
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