Monday #5: The Ripple Effect

A Rainy Monday

This past weekend I participated in a sweet, little art festival in the quaint town of Bloomsbury, NJ.  It was my 11th year in this show and, since it is near where I live, I see lots of friends during the course of the 2-day event, many which I’ve made during the decade I’ve been a part of it.  The community of Bloomsbury really puts on its best host and hostess hats and I’m always touched by the kindness and support of the residents who let us take over their Main Street for 48 hours.  When the weather is fine, as it was this weekend, it is a really nice place to be.

Early on Saturday, a young mother pushing a stroller stopped in front of my booth and exclaimed, rather incredulously, “you’re Dar Hosta?!”  I replied that, yes, I am Dar Hosta.  She shook her head and asked, “you’re the one who wrote a book called I Love The Alphabet?”  Yes, I am that Dar Hosta.  “I had no idea who you were, no clue that you’d be here in Bloomsbury!  We just checked out your book from the library this morning and read it for the first time this morning while we made our first pee-pee on the potty!”  (I’m pretty sure that, despite her use of “we,” she was referring to the cute, little gal in the stroller and that she, herself, was already well acquainted with the commode).  So, I bet you didn’t know that my books are not just great for storytimes and classrooms but also for potty training!  Because, I’ll tell you that I sure didn’t.  Wow!  She told me all about this silly but, let’s admit it parents, very poignant moment in child development where the kid has the Aha! moment and realizes that you can make the pee-pee in a potty instead of the diaper!  She was very excited to share all the details with me and decided, on the spot, that nothing else but a signed copy of the book, commemorating this very event, would do.  I was more than happy to oblige.

Later that day, I was greeted by a client whom I had not seen for about 7 years.  She told me an amazing story, a touching story, a sad and painful story–though one that now has a happy ending.  It was a story of trauma, violence, heartbreak, love and loss but since the last time I’d seen her, she had already emerged on the other side and is now ready to begin again.  Mingled into this story, to my surprise, was a piece of my art she’d purchased those 7 years ago.  Through all the turmoil in her life, this art had become significant and, strangely, had made its own physical journey, having just recently returned to her possession.  To me, flowers… to her, a symbol of hope and a visual to meditate upon.  Her eyes filled with tears as she told me the story of this art work, a piece that I, myself, had forgotten as I moved onto to new projects.

Artists know well the feeling of letting our creations go into the world, and the realization of not knowing where they end up and how they affect the people and places that they go.  Perhaps our greatest fear is that they don’t have any effect at all.  It is, at least to me, one of the greatest gifts to receive these stories–from the silly moments on the potty to the powerful moments that are often difficult to hear–because they prove what I believe is one of the most profound aspects of the human condition: what we do, say and make affects others.  These moments enter the world like a stone thrown into a pond that ripples outward.  For better or for worse, they matter.

The rain held off until late last night when a front came through with the wet, late September coolness that I’m sure will bring more color to next Monday’s shot.  I love rainy days… they are not so nice for running, but they are my favorite days to make art.

TRY THIS WEEK: Think of someone who made a difference in your life for any reason at all and find a way to tell them.

About Dar Hosta James

I am an artist living in New Jersey. I write and illustrate children's books, paint, draw, blog, coach, teach and speak about creativity.
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