Martha Beck says, "Bad artists ignore the darkness of human existence. Good artists often get stuck there. Great artists embrace the full catastrophe of our condition and find beyond it an even deeper truth of peace, healing, and redemption."
Which explains to me why I detest the bland, sweetness-and-light fluffy stories many other women seem to enjoy, but also hate the dark and depressing "life is horrible" literature that seems to make it to the best seller lists. I fear I may never be a great writer myself, but at least I think I can recognize great writing. It's the stuff that changes you, makes you feel hope, and lifts your burden while giving you credit for the challenge you've come through. It helps you grow and then recognize your growth.
Having said that, today I met a truly great artist, Jette Vandermeiden, a woman who has gone through some seriously difficult challenges and losses and has emerged on the other side of them as a joyful, generous being. You look into her face and see genuine peace and happiness there. She has found her place, undertaken meaningful work, surrounded herself with beauty, and discovered how to pass her hard-won knowledge and skill along to other seekers. She spent two hours with me today giving me hope and perspective and igniting a little spark of inspiration. I simultaneously felt both that I wanted to get to know her and that I'd known her forever.
As a thank you I sent her a copy of my latest book, a pathetically humble offering but mine own. Will my journey lead to my becoming a great artist? I don't know. But today was certainly a step in the right direction.