Immortality

click image to enlarge

It is so nice that more of my friends have discovered drawing in the past three months, many of them people I would never have imagined would have the time and interest to pick up a pen. It may be coincidental or it may be a newly discovered awareness that life is short and one ought to try all the things one dreamt of while one has the chance.

I also like to think that Patti’s example inspired my friends to explore their creativity. She was an endlessly creative person, always making something out of something else. She made creativity seem fun and a natural part of life, not scary or intimidating or prey to judgment. I think our friends are reminded of that when they think of her as intensely as we have this past season. They remembered how she was always a flurry of creative energy and were somehow moved to keep that spirit alive.

She would be happy that this is her legacy — inspiring people to come into their own creatively and to take risks in order to discover what they can do. It’s a wonderful gift to pass on and it is infectious, spreading to more and more people as they see what their friends can do.

We work hard to give our lives some meaning, to do well by others, to have values and standards that can endure. We teach our children things that can survive beyond our lifetimes, we set examples that make a mark. That’s true immortality.

I come from a fairly small family, generations with just a child or three in each family, many of them grown estranged. As we’ve lost touch, we’ve lost meaning too and the lessons and examples of our lives have dissipated in the fog. I know my great-grandmother became senile, stripped off her nightgown and danced on the dining table. I don’t know much more about her than that. But her daughter, my grandmother Ninny, inculcated my sister and me with a certain set of higher standards — that one sets the table with cloth napkins, that one makes one’s bed each morning, that one should strive to have a nice garden and to listen to Mozart and Bach. It’s funny that she lived for some eight decades and that her legacy is this small list of small things. I think that would surprise and maybe disappoint her. My grandfather taught me some things by his example but more things to avoid. He was fastidious and controlling and grew older without growing wiser. I think in the end one can learn as much from bad examples than good; the things to avoid have lots of resonance.

I have no idea what impression I shall make on the the world. Or how long it will last. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose, as I’ll be dust and gone. Encouraging others to make things seems like a nice testament to one’s life and I am proud to have been married to a woman who inspired it. Her love of beauty and self-expression will continue to ring out like ripples in the ocean for quite some time. And perhaps by reading these words about her, you too will be moved to make a drawing or a cake or a dress and share it with others who will be inspired to do something nice and creative of their own. Please think of Patti when you do.

19 thoughts on “Immortality

  1. Dear Danny,

    you wonder what impression you will leave to the world and I cannot quite articulate how that statement makes me feel. You are the guy who pretty much changed my life in so many ways, yet you don’t even know I exist. I wrote about your influence extensively at my online digs (http://www.thecreativeidentity.com/the-creative-identity/2010/02/licence-to-write.html) in the recent past and I hope that, although I am just one person on the other side of the world, it may just make you realise how helpful you’ve been for lots of stifled creatives everywhere. So I just would like to take this opportunity to say thank you.

    All love + hugs,

    Steph~

    • Steph:
      I just read your extraordinary essay about “The Creative License” and I am so pleased that you understood it so well, in many ways better than I did. It makes me want to go back and reread the book!
      Thanks for sharing i with me an d others. I urge you all to spend some time with Stephanella’s blog
      Danny

  2. Lovely.
    We all make choices that inform our lives. Sometimes, the older I get, the more I realize that doing even the simple things in life with beauty and dignity enhances our experience of life, whatever life we live. My grandmother and mother taught me that, and I think it’s enriched me: if your efforts are focused on creating and seeking out the beauty in life, you’re not going to be using negative energy. Patti must have understood all that, and so do you. Now I’m off to read Stephanella’s blog. Thank you!

  3. I agree with Sue – absolutely lovely. I started out trying to change the world but eventually realised it would destroy me. Everyday Matters helped me refocus my life on my family and on creativity and, as the years have passed I’ve come to appreciate that these “small” things actually have a far more significant impact on the world around me that than the “big” things I used to do. It’s a very different life and I struggle sometimes with the choices I’ve made (and those that have been made for me) but your blog and your sharing of your life has always helped me with that struggle. You, Patti and Jack Tea have had such a huge impact on so many lives and continue to do so. Now I’m going to follow you and Sue over to Steph’s blog…

  4. This is a great reminder for all of us that our actions can influence others, so let them be an expression of our values. Your story about your grandparents reminds me of an acquaintance’s quote from her father, “No one’s life is ever wasted. You can always be a bad example!”

    You and Patti have had a tremendous, POSITIVE influence on others. Your blog has become a touchstone for me in cyberspace and I treasure each addition to it!

    Carol C.

  5. Hi Danny. I love your input as well as what Steph added to the understanding of the creative process. I look forward to hearing from you, and am gratful that you link it to your Facebook friends.

    Purpose and meaning are what motivates humans the best. As a counselor, I have found that everyone has some emotional pain, and that there are a few strategies that one can use to soothe and ease the pain of being human in this world. One of these things that is loaded with purpose and meaning is adding beauty to the world through art, or even just making a mark that communicates one’s pain in order to connect with others.

    Thank you for the many people that you and Patti have inspired creatively. I will continue to spread the news that we all have the ability to create in one way or another, and that creative force is healing. It is my life goal that this be one of my lasting legacies.

    Yours,
    MD

  6. Thanks for this post Danny. I can honestly say that you and Patti helped me turn a creative itch into an amazing profession where I write and illustrate children’s books, have an animated TV series on PBS, tour the world helping kids in need and use the talents you inspired me to grow in my sketch journal as the core of my passion.

    As you know Patti was so inspirational to me. And so encouraging. I have always been moved by your blog which got me to start keeping a sketch journal in the first place. (And after following the Creative License I landed up not only being inspired by you, but being featured in An Illustrated Life.) The icing on my creative cake was the privilege of sharing my writing and art with Patti almost on a weekly basis. Her support is sorely missed. I can honestly say that her feedback and encouragement made my work a hundred times better. I still write to her and send her letters, but in a different way.

    Thank you and Jack for continuing to share her with us despite the pain and heartache you are feeling through this incredible loss.

  7. Reading this just brings a myriad of thoughts to the surface, both of my own place and impact on this world, the legacy I leave, so to speak, as well as those who have gone before me, familial and unknown alike. I agree with all you’ve said here, Danny. Love the journal page too!

    • Dear Lynsey:
      Thanks for the lovely write-up and for championing Trauma guy.
      Minor (to me, major) correction: My wife did not “take her life” but was killed in a horrible accident. On March 18th.
      Thanks for correcting the record,
      Danny

  8. Danny, thank you for the link – and I agree Patti’s legacy will live on forever.
    And what a great legacy creativity is in deed.

  9. Pingback: What’s it all about?

  10. Since finding your site 3 years ago I have kept drawing, painting and sketching. Your message on this page has once again deep meaning for me as tomorrow I go for mastectomy due to breast cancer. I feel positive but will take my sketch book, pens and pencils to record a bit more of my own history. Thank God its on my left side and I’m right handed. All kinds of things happen to all kinds of people to make them look a little more closely at their own lives. Lets just keep moving forward and inspiring others as you certainly are and I intend to.

    Much Love to all, Pam

  11. Patti continues to inspire me through your words. I am grateful to you for the nudging to get that pen moving on the paper. I always feel happier after filling a page with lines and color. You are proof that even on the darkest days, expressing yourself through art is healing. You are a gift, Danny. Thank you.

  12. I like this kind of style!Hello~i am a high school student,yesterday i read 手繪人生by Danny Gregory,haha…and i saw and said : WOW!!SO MANY PEOPLE can draw such a beautiful view by watercolor!! And i really want to learn about it (if someone can teach me,haha)so these day i try to find some pictures and draw ~i hope i can see more good artwork in this webside!!(my English isn’t very good…hehe~) Keep going!
    (if someone want to share your drawing idea with me,
    you can send E-mail to me and i will be so happy!XD)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s