Immerse Yourself in Something New by Eileen Adler
On the anniversary of my father’s passing, I always try to do something special. The first year I had my first colonoscopy; I won’t bore you with the details, but things improved after that. Today I decided to learn more about a favorite glass blowing artist, Dale Chihuly born on this day in 1941. I first saw his glass sculpture at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas while waiting at the registration desk, looking up at the most beautiful garden one could imagine. The glass installation weighs over four thousand pounds and showcases more than two thousand flowers.
Up until the age of fifteen, Dale Chihuly’s life was predictable but
that year, tragedy struck when in his working-class neighborhood,
his older brother and only sibling died during a Navy training mission, followed by the sudden death of his father two years later. Coping with these tremendous losses left him recalcitrant, a teenage delinquent, angry at the world. By 1962, he dropped out of the university to study art abroad, first in Florence, Italy, but within the year, he returned to the states. A year later, he was incorporating glass shards into tapestries while enrolled in a weaving class, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington in 1965. By then, his love of glass blowing ignited him. Chihuly earned a Master of Fine Arts degree through Rhode Island School of Design as a Fulbright Fellow in Venice.
Eleven years later, while traveling in England, he was involved in a terrible car accident resulting in the loss of vision in his left eye, explaining why he wears an eyepatch. Despite the loss of vision, he was able to continue his work, but things didn’t bode well. Within a few years, he dislocated his right shoulder while bodysurfing, necessitating the abandonment of his hands-on art relying on assistant gaffers (glassblowing helpers) to produce his art. For someone else, this would have been a catastrophic loss but Chihuly sees things differently, describing himself as a choreographer designing the dance of his art, able to stand back and view his art from afar affording a better interpretation. With his life running smoothly, he married Leslie Jackson in 2005, and they are the parents of one son.
Chihuly’s prodigious work ethic is commendable, explaining that he pours himself into today and the future, deciding long ago not to revisit the sadness and losses in his childhood, using his challenges to spur him forward rather than spurn him.
When faced with adversity, I agree with Chihuly, I pour myself into today making this the best day possible with a wink toward tomorrow. “Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again,” said Buddha. As care partners, our days can be challenging, but we must strive to thrive and move forward, shedding the past focusing our eyes on this moment, this day, toward the future.
Self-care Ritual: select a genre or a specific artist and find that spark that motivates them to move forward with their dreams. Using gaffers, for us in the care partner domain, these might be a home health care aide, someone to help with housework or the garden, or someone to help clean out the refrigerator. If you’re like me, there is something you have been putting off because you don’t want to do that chore. Enlist the help of a gaffer – you won’t be sorry, because you will become the chorographer in your life – you will become a Chihuly!