My mama's mama was a whiz with needle and thread and sticks and yarn and anything else you can use to make textile art. She hand-made virtually everything my mother (her adored only child) wore all the way through Rice University and maybe beyond. When there were three little girl grandchildren to dress up, she did right by us, too. In between clothing us, Grace made myriad other spectacular afghans (isn't it funny how everyone calls them "throws" now?), seat and pillow covers, table doilies... if it could be constructed outta thread or yarn, she could make it.
Of course, as a kid, I was pretty unimpressed. When you grow up around someone who's doing something fabulous, you take it for granted. That's just what (Fill in The Blank with Your Favorite Social Role) does; don't they all?
But I was fascinated by this: Why the heck didn't she sell that stuff?
I asked her, a couple of times I think, because I didn't get it. Pretty sure I asked my mom, too. Still didn't get it. The answer was something about simply enjoying the activity of creating stuff and being perfectly content with doing so for friends and loved ones. There was never an ounce of hesitant reflection on her part either. She wasn't faking it. Selling this beautiful stuff she made wouldn't have done a single thing for her and her life, let alone for the folks on whom she bestowed the beauties.
That kinda thinkin' just doesn't fly today. If I had a nickel for every time someone, anyone -- people I know and people I don't know -- told me that I should be making money offa everything I do... well, I wouldn't have to keep doing it.
So, now I get it, where my grandmother was coming from: When you stumble upon or even carefully cultivate something that brings you so much enjoyment and satisfaction, it matters not a whit if you're paid to do it. But there's even more to it than that. And it's a point that's harder to pin down. But I'll try.
I'm one of those apparently rare folks who actually gets to do what I wanted to do once I grew up. I know how lucky I am and acknowledge it regularly. So I've witnessed firsthand the juxtaposition of loving what I do and needing to earn a living. I've (sorta) figured out how to mash it all together and come up with ways to bring income in and still experience joy. I've been asked by tons of people how I got to this point. I'm not a very good mentor, and it ain't because I'm selfish or hoarding what I know. In fact, I tell them the little things I've done (and to me, they really are small acts that I figure anyone would do in my shoes) to be able to write for a living. I also fully apprise them of what "making a living" means to me, and therein lies the rub:
It's not what I do. It's not the big bucks I stash in the bank. It's my attitude and thoughts that bring about emotions in me that I enjoy experiencing.
It's that simple.
It's not that I couldn't use the additional income. Heck, my grandmother worked all of her life, too, either as a hospital volunteer or in some office somewhere pushing paper. It's not that I'm walking around every day filled to the brim with gleeful joy. In fact, I get my incredibly short temper from Grace. We're both hotheads. Well, she was -- fact is she died when I was a teenager from -- well, this is tacky, but it's what I say to lighten it up a bit -- her head exploding. It's a family tradition. If y'all ever see blood runnin' outta my ear, say goodbye, quick.
And speaking of exploding heads (my mom nearly went that way, too, but some super fantastic brain surgeons plugged the hole up fast), I'm under the impression that running around frantically is a good way to nudge those kindsa experiences into manifesting. And there's no better word to use when describing the amount and type of activity one must engage in to sell, sell, sell -- even if the product's pretty great -- than "frantic".
So, before you get to joining the hip crowd and telling me I should do this or that with what I write -- remember, it's only a matter of time before I, too, will be gone. If there's one thing I'm clear on, it's that THAT is a fact, and no amount of income will ever change it.
I don't think I exactly hit the needle with the thimble (har har) in explainin'. I probably won't ever be able to explain to most folks why I'm good with living the way I do. Thing is, it doesn't matter at all, to me.
But now, all of you know about my superbly textilian artistic grandmother, and believe me, she never woulda believed that strangers in the ether would hear about her. So that's pretty fantastic. And maybe now you understand why I'm not jumping at the chance to boost my blood pressure so I can constantly churn out stuff to sell.