For years I’d thought of myself as part engineer/part artist. By definition, that arrangement sets up a conflict: part one thing, part the opposite thing, both stuck inside the same body.

My life was engineer verses artist. Artist verses engineer. Two sides against one another. I thought that was how life was for someone cursed with the blessing of technical and artistic traits.

Ever see that episode of Star Trek (original series), “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”? It was about two characters from the same planet, one half black/half white, and the other half white/half black. They were opposite in every way except for their prejudice.

"I'm black on the right side"

Bele - "I'm black on the right side" (C) Paramount Pictures and/or CBS Studios

Lokai - "I'm white on the right side" (C) Paramount Pictures and/or CBS Studios

Except for whatever reason, I never saw the prejudice. I saw my own internal conflict, even as a teenager. Fast forward about thirty years… Going to art school in my mid 40s, I expected to have the engineer forced into the background.

What I found after two years of art and engineering was not a dominant/submissive personality trait, but a single whole person… Not half black/half white, but a realization that the two were part of who I was. Am. Like ingredients in a meal, once mixed they can’t be separated. They are part of a greater whole. 

It makes sense looking back. The negatives image is not in contention with the positive print. They work together to make the final image. Developer doesn’t hate stop bath. Both chemicals play key roles in the overall process. Color does not compete with black and white. Or thinking digital, one side of the histogram isn’t jealous of the opposite side. The pencil, paint brush and chisel are not at war. 

Capt Kirk allowed Bele and Lokai to fight it out as the last two people left on a dying planet. It’s sad, but that’s what is at risk. One side wins only if the other side loses. Most likely, both are destroyed.

Sometimes I still return to old habits of the binary. It’s not always easy to remember to stop fighting myself. Half white and half black is like being half-right and full of half-truths. I’d rather not waste the energy.

School changed me, and that change should propel me to just make art, and stop sweating who is in charge. I’m not an artist and engineer. I found that a third person exists, and that’s me.

As Spock said to Bele, “Change is the essential process of all existence.

Let’s make stuff and see what happens!