I’ve always known I would do something creative with my life, but for the first 25 years or so I presumed I would be a visual artist. This past weekend was a very arty weekend involving several gallery trips.
When I see visual art, I often have a sense of “I didn’t do that.” I could have, but I didn’t. And it’s different from when you see people walking up to a color field painting and announce, “I could’ve done that, har har, my stuff should be hanging here and I should have a bunch of money!” No, guy, you couldn’t have done that because you don’t have the context or the lifetime of effort behind you.
I’m kind of the opposite of that, I have the context and maybe the ability, but once I had my MFA I didn’t put in the time in those social circles, and instead went off to play in punk bands and work a soul-killing office job.
So even when I am enjoying art, I usually do experience a sense of “I didn’t do that.” I’m not sure what I’d call it, maybe a regret that I didn’t have the grit and determination, or maybe I didn’t have the emotional maturity to make the connections. I think that was the major thing. I was too childish. Even at the time I definitely knew I was not ready for grad school but plowed through anyway, and spent most of my time working in an office to pay for my housing.
Toward the end of the weekend, my usual low-level “I didn’t do that” feeling was blown out of the water when I was looking at a piece and enjoying it, glanced down at the artist’s name, and saw the artist was someone from my grad program.
Her life was the life I thought I would have.
I’m not saying it is better than the one I do have. But I’m having some existential distress anyway. It’s like I thought I was driving to the park but took an unintended turn and ended up at the beach. The beach is probably better. But I’m feeling a little distressed about the park, because it seems like it’s now closed and I’m not welcome there. Or maybe that it’s simply so far away, it’s unlikely I’d make it there in my lifetime.
I was trying to work through why the sight of my classmate’s work threw me for a loop and my friend thought I resented her success, but it really wasn’t that at all. It wasn’t envy. It wasn’t about her, it was about me and my path not taken.
In PsyCop, I often see Crash as Vic’s path not taken. I imagine their interactions probably do leave Vic with flashes of “this is not me” and “what is my life?”
What about you? What’s your “path not taken”?