Anna, who was then four, said, "Maybe when you get to be a little older, you could be a artist." (How generous of her, I thought, to have such faith in me.)
"You probably need to practice more first," she continued. Maybe by your next birthday you could be a artist." (This was very generous, as my birthday was only two months away.)
Then, as she wandered around the dining room table where I was sitting, she stopped and said, "And when you're dead. . . ." (She paused, and my thoughts immediately leapt to how when I was dead my artwork would live on after me, or that my art would be in a museum, or some grand thing like that.)
Then Anna continued, ". . . you'll be a dead artist."
I exploded with laughter, pure unedited laughter. I laughed until I cried and couldn't speak a word. I could see that Anna was looking upset. I don't think she had meant to be funny. She was, after all, four years old, and perhaps she was chewing over the reality of death, even the eventual death of her mother.
Anyway, I like thinking that when I'm dead I'll be a dead artist (I'm sorry, but in my book it sure beats being a dead priest, which is what I often felt like even though I was officially alive). And until I'm a dead artist, I'd like to think I'm a joyful artist, even a playful artist. And a living artist, too.