It all started with a get well card from my third-grade teacher. Since Ive experienced a few medical issues recently, Miss Coleman creatively crafted a beautiful one-of-a-kind card that more than brightened my day.
It took me on a trip back in time to various teachers and projects from my past that had influenced and shaped the person I am today. Like hitting the search button on Google, once I started on that journey, all kinds of knowledge came rushing to the surface.
Just seeing Miss Colemans perfect penmanship encouraged me to write a little neater for at least a day or so. In my mind, I traveled directly back to her classroom. I was sitting in my desk with a crisp piece of white paper in front of me holding a freshly sharpened pencil trying to emulate exactly her perfectly formed cursive writing.
I felt my tongue desperately trying to form the letters on the surface of my lips like I always did any time I wrote or drew. Its funny. Sometimes I find myself doing that even today.
As I traveled down memory lane, I wondered if cursive was even taught any more. Closing the card, I was thankful I had the opportunity to learn under the wise guidance of Miss Coleman and even more grateful that I am blessed to still have her in my life!
For a while now, I have been trying to find several of my projects and notebooks I completed in college. I figured since Id already been back to the third grade, I may as well also visit my college days.
Just holding that card from Miss Coleman in my hands made me all the more determined to find those things Id been yearning to revisit. So, off to my studio I went and I wasnt coming back until I found what I was after.
Standing in front of shelving units visibly straining under the weight of heavy boxes and books, I didnt know where to start. The first box I pulled down yielded no results so I carefully hoisted it back onto the shelf. I hit pay dirt with the second one I grabbed. It was a large plastic box full of notebooks and photo albums.
As soon as I put in on the table, I knew it contained the items Id been searching for. Not knowing which one to reach for first, I randomly pulled out the larger of the notebooks and took a deep breath before opening it.
It was a thick, black leather-bound three-ringed notebook that was full of pages. Each page was encased in a clear protective sheet. I couldnt wait to sit at my desk and take a look at the results of a very difficult color theory class in art school. I almost held my breath in much the same way as I had years and years ago when I was presenting it to my teacher to be graded.
I could remember each hour I had slaved over it. I was so glad to see it again! Time had caused some of the colorful paper squares to release from their original places but, as I turned each page, I remembered each assignment as if it were yesterday.
Much of my color sense today came from lessons I learned in that class -- lessons I use every time I design or paint something.
Also in the same box was a very complicated little book compiled of various pages of black lines I had carefully executed with just a ruler and a special pen I had to fill with ink. Looking at it now, I was amazed Id even done it! Each line was virtually perfect and I seriously doubt I could even accomplish anything that detailed now.
However, over the years, I have used the very discipline that assignment taught me more times than I can recall. I carefully placed both of these books back in the box and proceeded on my major things I had learned trip back in time.
Those two projects triggered thoughts of another art project assigned by Barbara Hutto when I attended what was then Macon Junior College. The assignment was to divide a large white board into half and, on one side, arrange and glue a collection of easily obtained items of our choosing. Then, right beside it, we were assigned to paint its exact likeness so that Barbara couldnt tell what was real and what was painted from a certain distance.
I frantically searched through project boards stacked up against one of my studio walls. I almost yelled with joy when I found it.
There it was, just as I remembered it from more than 30 years ago. I had chosen to glue a collection of Brachs Pick-n-Mix candies, complete with the paper bag they came in, on my board. Of course, I had to cut off the real candy side right after the project was graded but I still had the part I painted.
I propped it up against the wall and stood back and studied it. My mouth began to water because I actually wanted a piece of the candy! I laughed as I recalled eating the candy that had been glued on the other side. This taught me how to see the art and beauty of ordinary, everyday things.
Walking back from my studio, I was thrilled I had the opportunity to visit with some of the lessons Id learned over the years. These are just a few examples of the lifetime of learning I have been privileged to have.
My mind cant even grasp all the things Ive learned or all the wonderful teachers who have taught me. It can be overwhelming just thinking back about it, but its exciting at the same time because the adventure of learning goes on and on.
With each day comes new opportunities to learn. How fortunate we are to be able to continue to learn something new every day -- no matter what our age.
As long as were alive, we need to remember that we can continue to learn!
More with Mark
Just a few spots remain for Mark and Debra Ballards annual New York City holiday trip Dec. 5-9. Join the Ballards in the Big Apple at the most amazing time of year for Broadway shows, tours, shopping and more. For details, go to www.markballard.com or call 478-757-6877 and leave your mailing address to receive the information by postal service.
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