By Cara Cummings
Being here was not planned. In fact, looking back, I think I tried not to be here. But the thing is, it’s impossible — no matter how hard I may have tried to stick to the plan.
It’s impossible not to get up in the morning and make art, even if the making starts in my mind. It’s impossible not to teach people about the things I love, and to help them create for themselves. It’s impossible not to grow food and flowers and beauty, and to share it with my community. It’s impossible not to orbit an enticing galaxy of creativity and possibility — one where it’s so easy to find inspiration on some days, and is frustratingly impossible to access on other days.
Here, the space to create was the reward, the stolen time when I should have been doing something else. It was just for fun, or an escape. But the space kept getting bigger, and it worked its way into everything. I couldn’t contain it. Being here made no sense; it didn’t pay bills or invite praise. However, in those moments when I didn’t fight it, when I allowed myself to create and to share, I found myself floating in a place where things became clear.
So eventually, I said yes. Yes to being here, yes to making this work, yes to whatever I might find on this path. I’m not sure if this is what purpose looks like, but I’m pretty sure this is what purpose feels like. I also know that even before, when I kept it quiet and small while I worked toward a sensible goal, it was growing stronger in anticipation of getting bigger.
Sometimes I imagine what it could have looked like if I had understood and trusted that thing, that place that I fought so hard to keep small, sooner. But that’s not how this works. Moving forward and collecting experiences are what eventually sharpened my focus. The thing that was more important to understand was that time was going to pass whether I did something or not. And that means that there is no such thing as too late. If I live my purpose, time will pass. If I do not, time will pass. So I choose yes. I get up every day and I build, sometimes it feels amazing, sometimes it feels terrible. Yet, it always feels impossible not to do.
I’m still not completely sure what purpose means to me. I think it’s fluid, that it changes as needs change. I don’t think it’s something that I can find, because it’s just there. It’s easy to see things that are louder, or brighter, or heavier. But the thing I do, the thing I could call purpose, does not disappear. The question is, do I give it attention?
Cara Cummings is a fine artist, illustrator, surface designer, and educator from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her work is the synthesis of her background in biology, environmental policy, agriculture, food justice, and botanical art. Cara’s Garden is a place where she grows flowers and food and has created a beautiful space for friends and family. The garden — and her connection to nature — provide endless inspiration for her work creating botanically-themed art and patterns in watercolor and oil.