You ever have one of those days where you just wonder? Wonder if what you're doing is worthwhile? If your dreams are attainable? If all the headaches and troubles are really worth it? I'm sure you have. It's okay, I have those days too. But I can tell you this, you never know the influence you have had, do have and will have. What you see as being small and insignificant may have had a profound influence on someone.
I'm the oldest of six children and while I have a good relationship with all of them, I'e always been very close to my brother James. We're two of a kind, James and I. At this stage we're often mistaken for twins though there are six years between us. We share our father's face (and goofy smile), though I've got more of Mom's coloring. Even though we live far apart, we talk on the phone often and, despite his New Year's resolution, the conversation always lasts at least an hour. I love talking to him because I can always just be me. We vent frustrations, share triumphs and joys, laugh together and he listens patiently as my kiddos scream through the house. There's not a whole lot unsaid between us.
But every now and again, James surprises me. He called today to tell me about his new job (still so excited for you, bro!) and his classes. He told me that in one of his art classes he needed to introduce himself and list three people who had inspired and influenced him to be an artist.
Now let me first point out that my brother is an absolutely fabulous artist. His art far surpasses my own in quality. At some point during this semester he will be part of an art show at BYU and if you're in the area, you should definitely go check it out (and James you'll need to tell me the dates for that because I still want to see if I can find a way to make it out there!). He is incredibly talented and I'm so proud of how far he's gone to chase his dreams.
Anyway, back to our story. He said, "Guess who made the top of my list?"
Since we had recently spoken of how much he enjoys the art of Andy Warhol, I made that my first guess.
"No, silly, you."
I was flabbergasted. "Me?"
He talked about when I was in high school and how I always showed such a love for art. It's true, I loved (and still love) art and making something beautiful. It's served me well as I've begun my writing journey. But as he talked about how inspired he was by something so seemingly small, I was greatly touched. Those sketchbooks full of half-finished drawings meant something to someone other than me. The time and effort put into my own artwork had inspired another person to become an artist. I had never known that me drawing everything I saw, spending all my babysitting money on pencils and paper, and taking all those art classes in high school and a few in college had influenced anyone. Honestly, I'd always thought it was one of my more selfish pursuits.
James, thanks for calling me today and telling me that. It may not have been a big deal to you, but those words came on a day I really needed them. I couldn't even begin to describe how I was feeling when you called, but I am seriously so touched and so humbled by your words. I'm glad my hobbies had a positive influence on you. Keep making great art! Someday, I just know there will be an artist who lists you as one of his/her greatest influences. And you should know that you are always an inspiration to me.
To all you dreamers and artists out there whether you paint, write, sing, draw, sew or whatever your art is. You never know how great an influence you have on those around you. But I promise you, you are making an impact. On those days it's hard to create, or that you start to wonder, I hope you'll remember that. Even if you don't see it, you are making an impact on the world. Even if it's in a small way, influencing one person can make a difference in this world.
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius