This week’s post is from a different perspective, it’s written by Buddy Odom husband of artist Kathie Odom. Buddy writes for Kathie’s blog and he does so in the form of letters. In this week’s post he writes to a friend and examines what he feels being a supportive spouse to an artist and wife truly means.
We often get so caught up in the hurry of life that we forget to ask about the things that matter. But after our lively conversation over drinks last week, I was reminded how good it is to simply catch up with an old friend.
You were very curious about my relationship with Kathie. And you often seemed puzzled over the amount of time and effort I invest into the pursuit of her art career. Most striking to me was your statement as you were leaving, “Well, I guess it’s my wife’s turn to do her thing now!” I think I was misunderstood. Right or wrong, here are some truths:
-‐ Yes, as soon as Kathie and I married, I gladly took on the burden of financial provision for our family.
-‐ Yes, we worked hard to find a vocation that intersected with my passions.
-‐ Yes, I found a great measure of personal satisfaction upon finding that job.
-‐ And yes, even while shelving her creative gifts for almost thirty-‐five years to raise kids and send me into my new found mission, she deeply enjoyed watching me thrive!
I can see, Matt, how you might think I have allowed Kathie to now “have her turn” in this rocketing art career of hers! And I can see how it looks to watch me champion, promote and support her in every way I can think of.
But her new path was not mine to give. Plus, this cheerleading of mine was not born out of a need for equity or fairness. Instead it began with an honest look at two things.
First, I started to look at my own ignorance. (I mean this word in the truest, not meanest, sense of the word). I ignored several things that were perfectly within my vision to see, mostly Kathie! I was so consumed with good things that I quickly began missing this young woman with whom I made vows. A few years ago after her career started to blossom, she asked me, “What were you thinking when you married an artist?” Frankly, I had no answer for her because I was busying myself with the pursuit of a wonderful life. You know… three kids, two cars, one house and a full belly.
Secondly, Kathie conveniently hid behind this wonderful life we had (have). But it was easier, much easier for Kathie to not paint. While extraordinarily demanding, it was somehow simpler to be the generous and kind woman who loved and encouraged a family and worked odd jobs while neglecting that once-‐fascinating and forever-‐stimulating joy of creating! Sure, she kept her juices flowing and hands busy with productive endeavors, but something was missing.
Make no mistake, Matt. While this life together is not completely ironed out, both Kathie and I are living with no regrets. And we know this crazy life cannot be settled with simplistic rules of fairness. Meanwhile, we want to live vibrantly today while not knowing what tomorrow holds. But (and this is a big but), there are longings deep within one another that need a lifetime of careful and intentional conversations to uncover.
The poet, Rainer Rilke, puts it this way: I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Clearly, there is a celebration going on over Kathie’s quiet success. Her oil paintings continue to evolve as do her relationships within a vast art-‐loving community. She is not hiding as much… and I am, thank God, not quite so blind.
As you know, I am one proud husband that will follow her anywhere she wants to go. But I must remember. She is a book written in a foreign language.
Man, I love this book,
To learn more about Kathie and Buddy Odom click here.
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