There are times when I feel like I ought to be writing more about political issues and social problems, trying to offer solutions and commentary or some other kind of tangible, meaningful help or insight. I wonder if I am just too wrapped up in my own little world, writing too much about my life, my experiences and my victories and struggles. Should I be writing more about Katrina? The earthquake in Pakistan? The war in Iraq? Should I be volunteering more, donating more, speaking out more? I struggle with this, but am soon reminded that my role as an artist and a woman in this world is not as a political activist. I have had my moments - once being a card-carrying member of the National Organization for Women and inspiring my friends to donate to political action committees on behalf of Planned Parenthood - but I have grown to see my role in this world as someone who makes a difference on a much smaller, more intimate scale. Just as I wrote in my previous entry of the importance of every small step one takes towards making a dream real, I have learned to appreciate every small light I shine for someone else, whether that someone else is near or far.
I received an email today from a woman who is celebrating her three year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. She explained to me that she had always wanted a tattoo, but never knew what to get until she bought one of my journals and decided she wanted the cover illustration - a smiley sun - as her tattoo. She wanted it near her heart, to remind her to "fill her life with passion", as the message on my journal cover said.
I have received this email and countless others from many amazing souls - cancer survivors, cancer victims and their friends, women in drug rehabilitation centers, women wanting to start their own card line, wanting to paint, write, and follow their dreams. These people write to me, and they share their stories, and I am - over and over again - overwhelmed with gratitude. Not only do they take the time to send me very kind words, but they open their hearts and share their visions, and they remind me that we are all connected in such a beautiful way. They thank me for inspiring them, but every single time, without fail, they end up inspiring me.
Not everyone needs to pontificate on all of the world's woes. I suppose I could use this journal to try to be more "activist" or political, but that is not what this journal is about. Perhaps I am a "creative activist" or a "dream activist", trying to make the world a better place one dream at a time, one very meaningful tattoo at a time. Trying to make my way, just like everyone else, receiving wonderful messages along the way that let me know I am not alone. That none of us are alone. Ever. "...that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and...this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever." -from "American Beauty"