I’ve had a love of drawing since I was a child.

When I was around four or five years old, I used to love drawing. I had those lovely old-fashioned color pencils and a box of watercolor paint cakes. Hours would go by with nary a peep from the nursery, where my mother knew me to be deeply engrossed in the creation of a vibrant fairy tale on heavy white paper.

This vice was encouraged by my progenitors until they noted that I also loved to take apart and reassemble objects. This could be anything at all – dolls suffered the fate of having their heads taken off and eyes pulled out to see what made then open and close.

The first tiny black and white television on our street fell victim to my screwdriver so I could free the little dancing men from their involuntary confinement. Gutting a herring or cleaning a chicken was utterly fascinating. “She will be a surgeon!” My mother announced, the day I turned 6.

Ten years later…

Ten years later, I enrolled at NYU as a pre-med student, but very shortly afterwards came home with my own pronouncement: I hated the confines and strictures imposed on me by the program and found the other students to be unimaginative cutthroats.

Art school was the place for me! My mother had other ideas, however, and a compromise was born. I would finish what I had started and choose a field that required illustration. So out came the old box of color pencils and my first retinal drawings earned me some odd looks from both classmates and professors. “With that much detail, who needs a retinal camera?” asked my clinical supervisor, “You do realize that in real life, you have to see more than one patient an hour?”  Sadly, I stowed the lovely things once again. 

Then one day, my husband gave me a gift.

He enrolled me in a fashion design and illustration course at Parson’s Institute. I rolled my eyes – too old to learn new tricks and who has the time, but ever the compliant child, I trudged downtown once a week to sit in a classroom full of people who called me “ma’am.” As there were no mint juleps involved, this was not formality of speech, but rather, deference to age. 

The weeks passed and I found I was looking forward to Monday nights at the drafting tables. True, my family had to fend for themselves when it came to dinner time but no one starved. I even found the color pencils had migrated from my art portfolio bag to my work purse and began to make a regular appearance in my exam room when my patients seemed particularly resistant to following verbal instructions. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all.

The semester ended but my youngest daughter, in her last year of high school, needed a prom dress.  A new project? Why yes! I always knew drawing those ray diagrams would be an indispensable life skill, one day. 

The take-home message, in case you were wondering, is this – life is a long and winding road. A path not taken can still guide you on your way and the skills you learned along the way are never wasted. So go find that box of color pencils and let loose your creative genius!