dear young artist (2016)

Dear Young Artist,

Before you dive into the deep end, I should tell you a few things:

Firstly, there is no shallow end. Tread slowly.

If no one has taught you to swim, you must quickly learn how to learn. Go with the flow and gradually, you will find your own pace.

Young artist, do you see that red ball in the corner? Yes, that big red one, there. Your very survival depends on it, but you must ignore it at first. Or at least pretend to. My young artist, all adults pretend. Ignore the ball. That is the first rule.

You see, young artist, rich people are quite fond of swimming pools. They will come here from time to time to watch you swim, bearing big red shiny balls. If you can manage it, put on a small performance for their pleasure. Do a little dance. Twirl. But don’t get carried away. Remember the first rule.

As you swim, young black woman artist, you must keep your hair plaited at all times. Other styles are a hassle for serious swimmers. They slow you down. As a woman, for obvious reasons, time is not on your side. Make haste.

But tread slowly.

Dear young artist, whether red balls abound or the red ball is a long swim away, know that this race is long. Far long after you are gone. And in the end, it is only with yourself.

Chasing the ball is tiring. And it’s all fun and games, until someone drowns.

Oh my dear young artist, you will tire often! When you do, if you must, rest against the pool’s edge. Whatever you do, young artist, stay in the pool. That is the second rule. Tread slowly, young artist.

You must continue swimming.

Modupeola Fadugba