Sleeping Through Class

I like to think of life as a series of short stories. Some are funny, some are dramatic, or inspirational, or sad. I love stories, and I think that’s what makes me love people.

Today I’m going to share a story that takes place in my college years. Warning— there’s no real point to this story. But hopefully it will make you smile.

Various friends had told me about a really interesting class I should take for an elective. It was a forestry class and I’d get to learn a lot about trees. That sounded great to me as I totally love trees, so I signed up for the class. But, as it turned out, I signed up for the wrong forestry class and didn’t realize it until it was too late. The class I had actually signed up for was “Wood Products”. Somewhere out there in this wide world there are bunches of people who would have found the subject matter fascinating, but I didn’t love it. I learned more about making cork board than I ever wanted to know. But I certainly would have learned more if I’d been awake for more than the first few minutes of each class.

I just couldn’t stay awake. Sometimes I’d be taking notes about feller-bunchers or chip board or (I honestly can’t remember much more than those two examples), and then I’d start dreaming. And for a short time—that time between awake and asleep—I’d write the craziest things in my notebook and then the writing would veer off the page as I dropped off to sleep. I started sitting in the very front of the class to try to stay awake, but it didn’t help.

You might enjoy envisioning my class. It was all guys—most of them wearing plaid flannel and work boots. And then there was me. I looked like I’d fallen out of some strange, colorful, fluffy dimension and landed in this class on accident. And that’s not too far from the truth. 

One day my teacher, who had a great personality and was truly making wood products every inch as interesting as it could possibly be made, had finally had enough of me zonking out on the front row of his lecture. He picked up my book and slammed it down on my desk. He wasn’t angry, he just wanted to wake me up, and it worked. He said, “You have fallen asleep every single day in my class. Am I really that boring?” And I said, “I’m so sorry! It’s not your class. It’s me. There’s something wrong with me.” Great explanation right? But I was telling the truth. It’s not normal to fall asleep uncontrollably in every class, even if it’s about wood products. And as if to prove my point, I fell asleep again just a few minutes later. So rude! I really am sorry.

My grandmother used to love it when I told her that story. She thought it was so funny and it makes me smile recounting it as I think of her laughing.

Inexplicably, I made a pretty good grade in my wood products class. But I’m sure the professor was relieved to see me go.  

~ Amy

Delighting in Other People’s Artwork

A big trap that artists sometimes fall into is comparing their own work to other people’s in a way that creates discouragement. Viewing art as competition can make every great painting into a personal insult. It blocks inspiration. 

I grew up looking at a big book of Maxfield Parrish’s artwork. Are you familiar with his work? Oh it’s wonderful! I looked at it over and over again and I STILL do. I am amazed by that guys paintings! As a child, they sent me into imagining. It was like going into another world. Of course my own artwork didn’t look much like Maxfield Parrish’s. But it gave me a beautiful star to reach for. I learned how to draw faces from tracing the faces he drew. I learned how to draw fabric and choose colors that complimented one another by studying the pages of that big clothbound book. 

His artwork was my teacher and my delight, not my competition. We can learn from and delight in one another’s artwork! So, when you create a masterpiece I will rejoice!

~ Amy

Hope In The Struggle

Last week I shared about the time I slept through a big section of the ACT when I was in high school, and I wondered —why exactly am I inclined to share this story and other stories like it? Is this useful information to anyone? But then I thought of all the times I’ve been relieved when I found out that someone I thought was performing well in life, was in fact stumbling along just like me. We need to hear things like that don’t we?

I love listening to the podcast “How I Built This”. It tells the stories behind entrepreneurs who have  pursued their business goals and been successful. I love getting to hear about these courageous men and women— their attempts and failures, their perseverance and failures, their faith and failures, and ultimately their success. If this podcast was about people who had succeeded in every way since birth and then succeeded at some business venture, I would have zero interest. I need to hear the struggle. It gives me hope.

When I share paintings on instagram or in shows, I’m sharing a part of myself. It’s a part I’m happy to share. If a video of me painting clouds went viral, I’d be like “Wow, how about that?” But if a video of me crying as I struggle to work difficult math problems went viral I would be more like, “How could this happen!!!????” Why such different reactions? They’re both accurate representations of some part of who I am. But in one video, I would look successful, and in the other I would not.

And although I’m not willing to create a video of me crying as I do math (and I don’t think you’d want to see it anyway), I’m happy to share some ridiculous blunders I’ve made in my life. There are a lot to choose from.

One of my favorites is the time I lost my car for weeks, thought it was stollen, and then by chance, found it again. Hard to believe, isn’t it? But it happened. My husband says I should share this story in more detail at some point so maybe I will.

Another favorite is the time I intended to go to a psychology class in college but went to a PHD level physics class on accident and—still assuming I was in the psychology class—proceeded to think that everything the teacher said was metaphorical. I really did that, and I got a lot out of that class too. I only figured out I had been in the wrong class when I went to buy the textbook and it was not a psychology book. Suddenly the lessons I’d learned in class that day took on very different meanings—much more literal meanings. It was one of the funniest moments of my life and still makes me laugh thinking of it.

I’m going to share some things like that here and there on my blog and you may love me for it or look down on me for it (you’re not that type though, are you?) but either way I bet you’ll marvel at God’s faithfulness to a dreamer like me. I’m shocked by it often. Metaphorically.

~ Amy