It Is Possible
‘It Is Possible”
This little button reminds me every time I sit at my bench.
I got it for free from the SF MoMA. It was part of their installation of Susan O’Malley’s final series, Advice From My 80-Year Old Self. O’Malley, a text based artist who’s sadly no longer with us, used buttons, posters and billboards in her work. For this project she, along with local youth, interviewed people on the street in Berkeley, CA. They asked passerbies to “imagine themselves as their kindliest, wisest 80-year-old self and give a piece of heartfelt advice.” ‘It is possible’ is one of the many responses.
I love this saying for its ambiguity that allows for me to engage.
I enjoy how the ‘it’ in this phrase can change over and over again to meet me where I’m at at any given moment.
With the start of the new year taking me out of the environment that I’ve set up for myself over the past ten years, I was reminded of how human beings are so habitual.
Both consciously and unconsciously we setup our environments to navigate our days in a specific way, within similar contexts. This becomes comfortable to us, familiar and we feel as though we have some control. It’s easy to find study after study about the brain and how habits, routines, rituals function in our brains.
I just spent five weeks teaching a jewelry course at Rhode Island School of Design. Apart from the my joy in choosing clothing and jewelry to suit my day, my routine in Providence was very different than here in San Francisco. I was a night owl and didn’t set the alarm in the mornings. I went to yoga classes whenever they happened to fit into my schedule, instead of starting my day with my own practice or going to a favorite instructor’s class. I allowed myself to not write a January journal post. I spent less time cooking. Teaching, I was clearly in giving mode…
Yet, I arrived back to San Francisco and two days into this week I’m very much in a similar routine to before. Wild!
Between it being a start to a new year, this experience being away for an extended length of time teaching, and it being in my nature to do so, I experienced and pondered discomfort, fears, ambitions.
At some point mid-semester I had students write down and then share one thing that would benefit us all but that they really needed to remind themselves of. It was important to me that I shared too. ‘It Is Possible’ came to my mind. At that moment for me it was specifically about being flexible and willing to adjust while at the same time holding on to roots and staying grounded. (‘It is possible’ to be an excellent teacher and still need to adjust the syllabus or how/what I’m teaching to better serve my students. This does not equal weakness or total lack of experience.)
And then, towards the end of the semester, I finished my artist lecture with this image. I told students to get out of habitual comfort zones, to go after ‘it’ — whatever the ‘it’ may be, and to believe that ‘it’ is possible. (And that they get to define the ‘it.’)
Returning to my studio, my eyes have again met the pin as it hangs above my bench. I once again am defining the ‘it’ of the moment.
Today, what I need to feel close to is ‘even though it’s more challenging to change a habit that has deep roots in a familiar setting, it is possible to do so. I can set clear boundaries and I can stay grounded while being more visible.
If you said ‘it is possible’ to yourself today, what would the ‘it’ be about? Share below if you’d like.