It's time to declutter. (What is it about artists and clutter? Or is it not about artists, just about me....) I'm sorting through books, tossing some, donating some, rediscovering others with joy. One book I uncovered with mixed feelings is a cookbook I illustrated ages upon ages ago when I was newly graduated from college. There are so many drawings I wish I had done better, but the most uncomfortable part is seeing bits that express the most potential and regretting my lack at that time of consistency, direction and confidence. To some extent I labored under the delusion that you had it or you didn't, and consistently developing skills without fretting over failure, making daily incremental progress was not how I operated.
I look at the book and think "what if?" What books would I be making now if I had just stuck with it then? How much farther along would I be on this journey if I had been a steady, patient tortoise instead of an erratic, stressed-out hare? Why did I quit using a dip pen? (Oh, yeah--because I had kids. They don't mix with open bottles of india ink.) But these thoughts are no more helpful than the old "I'm not a real artist because I don't draw like Leonardo," and I think I'm ready to toss them out along with the broken board books.
I've been reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my six year old and was struck by an exchange between Lucy (my co-blogger daughter's namesake) and Aslan, the great Lion and Son of the Emperor Over the Sea. Aslan summoned Lucy to follow him to help young King Caspian overthrow his usurping Uncle Miraz, but she didn't because her traveling companions didn't believe she had really seen Aslan and wouldn't go with her. Being the youngest of the party, she didn't quite realize that she could have followed him even if no one else came along. Later, she saw Aslan again, and he helped her understand that she could have followed him alone if necessary. Lucy was sorry and wondered what good thing would have happened if she had followed him when he first had called.
"You mean," said Lucy rather faintly, "that it would have turned out alright--somehow? But how? Please, Aslan, am I not to know?"
"To know what would have happened, child?" said Aslan. "No. Nobody is ever told that."
"Oh, dear," said Lucy.
"But anyone can find out what will happen," said Aslan. "If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me--what will happen? There is only one way of finding out." Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis
So I will never know what I would have done if I had known then what I know now, but I can find out what will happen as I follow the knowledge I now have. I am finding out every day.
I checked on Amazon, and you can actually buy this cookbook there. It's called Remembrances of Things Passed and was self-published by Alabama cooking teacher Bonnie Bailey. She's a good writer and the recipes look delicious, though I cannot personally vouch for them. If I ever tried making any of them, I can't remember it.