“Have you read the book yet?” my friend Arliss asked.
“No, but I’m still coming to book club.” I answered.
“Why haven’t you read it?”
“The subject’s depressing and it’s a graphic novel. I’ve never read a graphic novel in my life.”
“Don’t you like comics?”
“Sure, but not a whole book of them.”
“Oh don’t be a prima read it. It won’t take more than a day or two.”
Not wanting to be deemed high maintenance I picked up the book that afternoon. It was Roz Chast’s, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant”—a memoir about caring for her aging parents.
As much as I hate to admit it—it was a good read and when Arliss asked me what I thought, I confessed to liking it. So much so that I agreed to go hear Chast speak—another stretch for me. Many writers aren’t great speakers so there was a chance it would be slow.
It was, painfully so—but at the same time fascinating. Sort of like a watching a tortoise present a slideshow of his life. Chast is without a doubt ridiculously talented but also as quirky as they come. I suppose you could expect this since she’s a cartoonist but every artist I’ve ever met is so hip I feel square. Still, the whole time she spoke I had the strange sensation I knew her from somewhere.
Walking to my car after her presentation I found a penny under the parking meter. Reaching to get it I heard a whisper in my head say, “Remember this!” Remember what I wondered aging parents or Roz Chast?
The next day both subjects were dismissed when Chase’s college acceptance letter came. It was a proud moment for him. In middle school two different teams of professionals told us it was unlikely he’d be able to make enough progress to even apply. The letter shouted, “They were wrong!”
This wasn’t a surprise but suddenly it felt more official. A few days later when I paid the required registration deposit the roller coaster of emotion associated with it cranked into full gear. Where for years we’ve been so focused on getting up the hill it suddenly felt like we were on the verge of a free fall. Would this work? Can Chase do this? Yes, he’s made progress but can he really make more?
Pondering it all I found myself circling in my office chair when Chase got home from school.
“Just worrying,” I said laughing at myself. “How was school?”
“School was great,” he said—the standard reply after any day.
“What do you have there,” I asked looking at the stack of stuff in his hand.
“My portfolio from art class.”
“Oh let me see.”
Chase handed over the pile and we went through each piece. The progress he’s made blew me away—his style is still unconventional but the sophistication growing.
“Wow, bud look at how much progress you’ve made. You’ve learned a lot.”
“Well thank you Mom,” he said standing up a little taller. “Oh and I have something else for you,” he said reaching into his pocket.
I knew what this meant but when his hand emerged I was surprised to see three pennies not just one.
Chase gave me the coins and I circled back to my desk noticing Roz Chast’s book with the penny I’d found after her talk.
It finally hit me—Chast is Chase. That’s why she seemed so familiar. Every quirky characteristic she has screams Chase. From her artwork, to her sense of humor, and mannerisms it’s uncanny. They could be related.
With this epiphany I remembered Chast telling the audience that in grade school she didn’t think she had any potential because she couldn’t draw a perfect horse like the other kids in class. In hindsight “she” was wrong just like “they” were wrong about Chase.
Now with all four pennies in hand I was reminded that while it’s hard for me to picture I still need to “believe four” the best with Chase. With school that’s been easier to do because I’m familiar with that world. I know what it takes to be successful there. I don’t know what it takes for a budding artist to launch a career.
But my limited perspective shouldn’t shrink wrap my faith. God loves to do things contrary to our expectations because it shows His power to create not our own. The “proper” way of doing things is of man but the improper, unexpected, and unconventional—this is the way God usually works with our lives as His canvas. Chase hasn’t plateaued yet—and neither should my hopes for him. Sketch by sketch God will take Him where He wants him to be. History tells me I can count on that.