On the day that Zoe was born, I realized I had a new mission in life. That mission was to make sure that nobody ever stole her dreams.
Long before she was toilet trained, Zoe approached making art with an earnestness and concentration that seemed exceptionally mature. Fortunately, her parents understand how important it is to her.
My daughter said she'd noticed that Zoe becomes agitated when she hasn't painted for a while. "When I pick her up from pre-school and ask her how her day was, she'll glumly report, 'We didn't do art today!' or she'll happily tell me, 'We did art!'"
When Zoe was 4, I bought her glass artist Dale Chihuly's art kit for kids. It's full of exercises and stories about how he started to see the world as an artist when he was a kid. We began with a hilarious exercise that involved melting marshmallows in the microwave and then stretching them as glassblowers do with liquid glass.
We moved on to her bedroom and she began drawing. As she was working, I thumbed through the book and would share little bits of information. "Chihuly said he never met a color he didn't like," I told her.
She didn't acknowledge that she'd heard me, but when she finished she showed me her drawing. "It's Chihuly as a boy," she said.
A framed version of it now hangs in my office and a copy was sent to the inspiration for this piece at the time when she did it. Not only did we receive a lovely reply, it was accompanied by several books of his work and DVDs of his public television programs.
Of course, Zoe knows that making art is the reward of making art.
As Steve Jobs said in his famous commencement address at Stanford, "The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know it when you find it. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."
Zoe already knows that and I'm going to make certain that nobody tells her otherwise. And if art turns out to be a passing fancy and not a passion, I'll make sure she knows that it's okay to change her mind.