There is an old photograph I love. The image is one of me most likely 8 or 9 years old, sitting at a dining table, a bowl of large mangos revealing that I was in Mazatlan at my mother’s cousin’s home, drawing on a piece of white paper. I’m shirtless, most likely having just returned from an afternoon at the beach with my siblings. My young brown hair has grown almost past the bottom of my ears and down the nape of my neck. My mouth is slightly open, as though I was speaking and the camera caught me mid sentence. It’s not a staged photograph and I seem to be lost in the act of drawing. In my hand there is a feather that I recognize as a pen I made and used to draw with. I remember finding this feather somewhere near my house and it was large enough that I was able to cut away the tip of the quill and insert an ink cartridge from a regular pen. I appreciated that it looked like something perhaps Abraham Lincoln might have used to write. And it’s there that I find what I so love about the photograph. It has captured essentially who I was then and who I am now. I see the imaginative and inventive mind of that young boy, who so seamlessly created his world with little thought to the greatness of his imagination and how freely he swam in it. That feather pen clasped between two fingers a testament to his sweet and innocent spirit and to the uniqueness and the beauty of his child’s heart. When I look at this image, I’m overcome with a sense of joy and satisfaction. It’s so strong when it fills me, I can almost feel myself rise out of my body. I can see the path of that child to who I now am—an artist watching paintings emerge from his mind, the same meditative mind of that boy. I understand. I know. He carries a secret that he is completely oblivious to, lost in his uninhibited creativity. A secret that I spent a large part of the early years of my professional career trying to uncover. I had no idea that I’d held the secret before, that it had been obscured for so long by all the things I was taught as I grew up by voices that inserted themselves into my belief system like rogue threads in a beautiful tapestry. “Be afraid” they screamed! “You cannot have what you want. You are unworthy”. And the most sinister, art will lead you on the path to ruin and death. These words had paralyzed that little boy making it painful to act on the impulse to bring beauty into the world.