Today’s topic is both about timing and high time – a necessary counterpoint after yesterday’s. I could continue to forward further esoteric statements, and will, but first, allow me to go back. 

Here’s a portion of a post I once wrote about the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado, and, more specifically, regarding a portion of the drive leading there:
“…but a funny thing happened on the way to the art center. More like a funny feeling. Perhaps the internal stirring was simply due to the altitude, as I urged my faithful Toyota truck ever higher on Highway 82, past the Twin Lakes and towering sentinels of rock on either side. Maybe it was just the thin air at the top of the 12,000 ft. pass before descending the other side in low gear. Even as I write this, scout’s honor, I can feel it – something deep yet calling to something deep within me.” 

That’s just about the only mention I’d made in over 180 blog posts (at the time) to what happens to me, or within me, rather, nearly every time I drive up and over the Continental Divide and 12,095 summit of Independence Pass. Here’s another one from my more recent post Pass Open And Beyond, where things get just a bit more personal,
“Yesterday’s drive up and over the 12,095 summit (and Continental Divide) was personally propitious per usual. I may divulge later, and maybe not, but as I have mentioned in the past, that drive has always been a touchstone or cairn of sorts for me in a spiritual sense; a divide that cleaves something from me and introduces something new. Each time I pass through the pass, it’s out with the old, in with the new, kind of like a snake shedding its skin. It’s still itself, the snake – just changed. Somehow brightened. 

Another way to think of it is a setting aside of my former dependence on some increasingly ill-fitting train of thought, some self-applied, limiting belief, and passing beyond it, hence, the name the pass was coined, Independence, is personally apropos.”
Since a number of my posts of late have gotten a bit more personal and I haven’t keeled over or anything, I thought I’d go ahead and mention one more. 
Again, I’m being vulnerable in sharing this with you. It’s placing you, my largely unidentified reader, in a position of trust, wisely or not.

I trust some of you will take these words at face value. Others will overlay them with your own rubrics to try to make sense of them. Still others will dismiss them wholesale. Things like this have never happened to me, some will reason, therefore, things like this can’t possibly happen

And that, to paraphrase Yoda, is perhaps why things like this fail to happen. Mmmm, yessss. Anyhow, for me, as well, they’re pretty rare.

Anyway, here goes:
Just about every time I drive over the Independence Pass, as already stated, something is stirring within me. An even better metaphor than a snake shedding its skin might be that of an onion. 

We’re all onions, are we not – we have invisible layers within us, protecting us, perhaps, but also keeping others at a “safe” distance. Layers that only we can peel off.

And as with cutting into that vexatious vegetable in the kitchen, the removal of layers can be  attended, at times, with tears.
For me, the pain and tears are usually my wife’s. It’s happened more than a few times in our nearly thirty years of marriage together that I’ve divulged something to her about me that has helped to free me from its power over me while causing her no small amount of consternation. I always know I’m really ready to shed something once and for all when I can finally admit it to her, and let me tell you, internally, at those times, I’m experiencing such freedom, while yet realizing that she’s experiencing the flip side of the coin. 

I’m the kite flying high on a stout wind while she’s being dragged through the mud.
Somehow, she’s always bounced back, though, as with slicing onions, I’m sure she wonders if my layers will ever end. 

She’s not the only one.
Getting back to the Independence Pass, such snake skin-shedding or onion layer-removing times often happen to coincide with my needing to make a trip over the summit. I’m about to take a class at the Anderson Ranch. I’m picking up art at a gallery in Carbondale. We’re on our way to camp and raft near Moab, Utah. 
This particular internal event occurred on June 29, as I was driving to the Anderson Ranch to teach a sculpture class. (Note, in the linked promo video for the center’s 3D-related workshops, the scruffy-faced guy working with the uber talented Ajax Axe @ajaxinthewild.)
Just after I’d turned onto Highway 82 and was passing the Twin Lakes, prior to where the road begins to angle more steeply upwards, and already well aware of the pass’ significance for me personally, I wondered if anything might be “revealed” to me this time. 


Immediately, I had the following thought: 

Now you are an amateur. When you pass over the divide you will be a professional.

I took it to mean artistically, but still, I wasn’t sure what the words meant, exactly. However, after a beat came the follow up thought, 

So act like a professional.
Now, I could elaborate for quite a while on what I think the message meant, but I’ve already written a fair bit this morning and don’t want to take up too much more of anyone’s time. Suffice to say it felt, and still feels, more like an attitudinal stance than a directive to become, say, a full-time artist (which I subsequently did, by the way, in 2016), or to buy business cards, dress for success, or what not. 

No, it felt more like something a teacher might impart to a student, either verbally or in writing – a sort of blessing of the gift of words that cause that student to believe in their abilities to a greater extent.
So that’s it. Sorry if you thought there was something more.

Oh, wait, not quite – 
When I make the five hour drive from my home in Colorado Springs to Snowmass, I typically turn my cell phone off in Divide, a town about 45 minutes into the gorgeous trip, since from that point on, there’s no reception and the battery, trying in vain to pick one up, seems to drain faster. I typically don’t turn my phone back on until I enter Aspen, the town lying at the far side of Independence Pass. 

Such was the case on Sunday, June 29, as I drove down, out of the pass into the town, my windows down, the sun hot on my left arm, and mulling the message.

After parking the truck, its bed loaded with materials for the class – I wanted to take a look at and snap a few photos of the Aspen Art Museum’s new building nearing completion in the heart of town – I turned my iPhone on and noticed that the Facebook icon on my home screen had a little red dot. 

Some sort of notification on the social media app awaited my viewing – a like, comment, or message.

I use Facebook and Instagram almost exclusively as another artistic tool, rather than getting into family stuff or other topics. Probably makes most of my ‘virtual’ friends and followers think that art’s the only thing on my mind, but it helps me to keep from abusing the platform in a variety of ways that wouldn’t be in the service of my avocation. Anyway,
I have things set up where I approve, or disallow, any posts people want to hang on my wall.

As I opened Facebook in Aspen, I found that the notification awaiting me was a request to post a photo I’d been tagged in. It was from Erin (then) Ravin (now) Arnsteen, the (then) Colorado College Art Department’s Paraprofessional, who had snapped a few photos of me at the then recent opening of CC alum Michael Arnsteen’s recent opening at the 802 N Nevada space Erin facilitated for the college. 
I recognized the picture. I recalled hamming it up for the camera, pretending to be talking with Michael about one of his beautiful prints.
Be that as it may, and despite the fact that I wasn’t seeking any additional confirmation regarding the message on being an artistic amateur/professional – despite never having had a conversation about anything like this with Erin in either the recent or the not so recent past – here’s what she wrote to accompany the following photo. 

I read it, smiled, gave a quick laugh, and hit “Allow”.



“Andy Tirado gives his professional opinion.”
Now as then, the idea that I would call myself a professional anything feels braggy, and hence, I don’t use the term. I prefer “full-time artist” or simply “artist”, even though that word itself has similar issues, as it can mean a) one who makes art, or b) one who does something with a level of artistry or ability. 

Perhaps that’s why I had to hear the word professional applied to me and my art, not that my ears heard anything the whine of the motor and the wind invisibly enveloping the vehicle, twirling and swirling in my vehicle’s wake. 

It felt more like something deep within me – something perhaps close to the core of my onion-like being, that was, with every foot of elevation gain, expanding outward.

As I begin to close out today’s post, I’ll just say one more thing before turning from my more inward focus to one perhaps involving you, my unseen reader.

Perhaps you, like me, feel the internal struggle that occurs when one part of you, the previously more comfortable part, feels increasingly threatened by some new, rising “threat” within – some dormant part of you that is awaking, like a sleeping giant. Some creative force that can’t peacefully co-exist with the “smaller” or “safer” version of you that you’ve allowed yourself to be. 

Because, let me tell you if you don’t already know – being creative is just about the most dangerous thing you can do with your life. 

But if you, like me, are game for such an adventure, let me say you don’t need to travel up and over Independence Pass to receive what I evidently so desperately did at the time, feeling out of my element in teaching a class to a number of highly talented artists, some of whom had been in the game for decades longer than I had, and one of whom I knew personally. 

(The pass is closed for the winter, anyway)

No, all you have to do is sit or stand up straight, with your shoulders back. Assume the bearing of a professional (artist, or teacher, or writer, or carpenter, or…) 

Just slither or peel out of that old, ill-fitting reality and into a gloriously new one. 

(and do keep some tissues at the ready)

Peace out.