I dreamed what I would first say to you on a hot night in August. I woke up with the words on my tongue and felt a strange sense of knowing about them. Since there are millions of words and an infinite way to arrange them, it was intensely important that my first words (ones you won’t read for years) actually said something. I needed to be sure before I struck pen to paper, and this waking dream was my sign.
I guess this strange experience of dreaming my best thoughts isn’t something very new at all. Paul McCartney dreamed the melody of “Yesterday” and took to the piano as soon as his feet touched the ground. And they say Salvador Dali dreamt much of his surrealist art, which makes perfect sense to me. But, seriously, can you believe it? It seems like a magician’s trick. And yet, it is so much more than that for me now. In many ways I feel like I dreamed you, sweet one, into a reality. I can say, now, that I am no different than the artistic greats.
Of course, you will see me in just one way for the next twenty or so years. You will simply see me as Mommy. And that is completely okay with me. When you are born, I will have waited 34 years for that honor. I just want you to know I thought of myself as a bit of an artistic soul before you—reading, writing, photographing, teaching, strumming my guitar, and wandering on the mountainsides. But no matter what I wrote or what I photographed, I was always in a state of restlessness with my art, looking desperately for my real “masterpiece.” But, as you grow inside me now, lulled by the gentle pound of my heart and the whooshing of my breath, I have realized I finally found it: my masterpiece. And it’s you.
Artists far more talented than me—the ones who make a grand living on their creations—know that there are two parts to the artistic process. First, there is a time of incubation and creation. This is the artist’s time. They are the creator in a fiercely hidden process, be it the construction of prose on a page or the splatter of paint on a canvas. These artists work tirelessly and with unrelenting passion as they birth their masterpiece in the ancient dance of inspiration. But what happens next, as they push their creation into the world, has very little to do with them at all.
The next step in the artistic process is to brave the second life the masterpiece takes on as it is shared with the world. You see, in many ways, once the artist shares her masterpiece with the world, it is no longer solely hers. It takes on a life of its own. Others are allowed to experience it, as wholly or partially as they please. They may call it theirs, for better or worse. Or see it just as she had intended—or not. Perhaps her masterpiece may have more to say and do in the world than the artist ever knew it would. There will be times she may celebrate in that reception. And without doubt, there will be times when she hungers to shelter her masterpiece from the penetrating eyes of spectators. But, nonetheless, her masterpiece will speak to the world as it pleases or as it must.
And yet—in all of this new life and despite sharing her precious masterpiece with the loud glare of the masses—the artist knows the masterpiece in intimate ways no one else will ever know. And it is love. So much so, that one day, the artist will sit back and remember the quiet, unseen nights when it was only her and her paintbrushes or pen— just her and her dreams. And she will smile sweetly when no one is around, as her masterpiece hangs far from home in The Guggenheim or is reprinted for its third run to fill the bookshelves of millions, and she will have a knowing:
There will be a searing gratitude burning in her chest because she was able to bear witness, that she was the one picked by God to have a dream that became a reality that turned into the masterpiece she didn’t even know was possible or that she was even capable of creating herself.
And she will be left in awe.
Already in awe of you,
[Photography property of http://www.PhinneyPhotography.com.]