One of the books is a graphic non-linear autobiography. The narrator tells her own story through a series of drawings and doodles and collages framed by thoughts. In one section she's doodling and there are ghosts behind her yelling "Don't Know!" The girl is the book's author struggling with her desire to become an artist. The problem is she doesn't know if her work is any good. She's already experienced that inevitable turning point we all undergo at some point regarding self-expression and art: someone judged her work negatively. Now she is followed by ghosts whose lingering presence forces her to question the value of her work. And she just can't determine anymore what's good. Before, it didn't matter.
So how does one know if something is truly good?
Every child experiences this. Every artist experiences this. Really anyone who creates anything. I very clearly recall winning an art contest in Grade 3. There was an assembly and I was presented with a book. The man reached out to shake my hand but I didn't know what he was doing so I stood there until finally I reached up and held his hand for a while. He laughed. For years after that I wondered, am I an artist? Art class, for me, was my school safe place. I enjoyed most things about school but Art class felt more like home than my own home. I never felt stupid there. And honestly I don't ever remember being criticized there but I do remember one useless lesson I learned at some point in junior high: real boys don't do art. And that's when the critic appeared: me.
I just finished my first year in a new job. Despite the many challenges, I almost entirely loved the job. Especially the creativity. The risk-taking. The problem-solving. Testing hypotheses. The play. Never the same day twice. Researching. Collaborating. Designing. Learning. Developing the art of it. Practicing. It was hard. But it rarely felt like work. But I wonder, was it good? I truly think it was and yet....
Some things just cannot be judged at least not in quantifiable ways. I believe, once again, that what's most valuable is not measurable. Like art. So I say: "ghosts, go away."