It’s strange how life sometimes throws you a hint. Even stranger is the way that a certain memory is stored with perfect clarity while the rest of the same day fades away. It was summertime, right before I went away to college and I was visiting a friend of mine. We were standing in his kitchen and on the table were scraps of fabric in all different colors. I looked at the rich brocades and chunky knits and asked why he had fabric swatches in his kitchen. “Oh, those are my mother’s. She brought them home to work on this weekend.”
I knew his mother worked in New York City doing something, but I had no idea what kind of job involved fabric swatches and interesting textured knits. “She’s a textile designer.” he said, and off we went to whatever adventure we had planned for that day.
I don’t remember anything else about that day. I don’t remember if I drove to his house, if we were meeting other friends…I don’t even remember if I ever met his mother. But I know she was a textile designer. And I know that was the first time I ever heard of that career. That little nugget of information rattled around forgotten in my brain for decades while life happened. I started college as a Graphic Design major and studied art for a while until I discovered my second love – psychology. In fact, I purposefully chose the college I attended because it offered both a Graphic Design and a Psychology degree.
In the end, psychology won out. After graduate school, I built a very stable and reliable career in Education and went happily about living my life. Twenty years into my career, I again started painting. Then I started designing. It evolved into a second career – a side hustle that’s became my own business – one I’ll pursue full time when I leave Education.
One day, while connecting with another friend from long ago, I clearly recalled that day in Jeff’s kitchen. It was like a lightning bolt because for some reason my brain coded that brief memory with enough strength that it came flooding back to me like it happened last week. Now, I’m sure textile design was much different thirty years ago – and while it seemed moderately interesting to my teenage brain, now it is my consuming passion. It’s what I do. Who I am.
So whatever you’re currently doing, I hope somewhere deep in your memories is a clue about what you are truly meant to do. I know I wasn’t meant to be a pattern designer for the past thirty years…I was meant to have exactly the life I had. But sitting here on the other side of those great years, I know that I am meant to go back to art. That’s probably why that memory is so clear – on some level, I knew that eventually I’d wind up doing exactly what I’m supposed to. I hope you do, too.