For most people, taking a sabbatical from work, routine or course in life, is a planned "time out". It may involve a vacation to refresh & rejuvenate. For some, extended studies for personal growth. Sometimes a sabbatical is intended to cure boredom or burnout.
In March of 2018, I posted my last blog, "Milestones". A tribute to a personal high in my career as an artist; a personal high in life. I was riding a wave above the ultimate honor of seashell artistry. The excitement fueled creativity, ambition & confidence. "Time out" from my artistry was the last thing on my mind; inspiration was explosive & I could barely hold back my next endeavor.
And then it happened. The ultimate Unintended Sabbatical. June 9th, 2018, The Gulf of Mexico turned brackish as tea. Turquoise turned toxic waters full of carnage of dead sea creatures from tiny to massive. Air quality reduced to poor with respiratory issues ranging from irritating to intolerable. Face masks became as common as flip flops; not just at the beach, but stores, banks, church; well everywhere.
Custom order requests for my seashell art continued to pour in; after winning 1st place in the professional division at the 81st Annual Sanibel International Seashell show, my work was in high demand.
While manatees struggled to keep their heads afloat in our back yard harbor, dolphin & sea turtle carcasses washed up on our beaches, my inspiration perished as well. My hands and my mind could not coordinate to create.
Suddenly it was over. Art in any form seemed trivial. It was as if I went to bed at a 5 star resort on a private tropical island and woke up in a rancid, polluted 3rd world country.
Corrections in life come unexpectedly. The key is to understand why they happen and become part of the solution. Afterall, unless someone like me and someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
As my Unintended Sabbatical comes to an end, I reflect on it's positive impact on my life. Unlike a vacation, my time away was spent learning, engaging in a cause greater than my art or myself. Opening my mind to a reality once contrary to my way of thinking. Most impotantly, an even greater appreciation for the creatures & the importance of protecting their habitat. My sabbatical was a blessing in disguise.
As wildlife continues to heal & our coastal ecosystem rebuilds, I finished my first project. Pleased with even greater detail & definition than before. With recovery comes inspiration. It's no coincidence that nature & humans are codependent. I'm pretty sure God intended it that way. Let us never forget.