I get so bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of life that I forget, sometimes, how amazing it is to love what you do. Not just to find enjoyment in your day, and to feel satisfaction over a job well done- but to really, truly, love what you do. It makes me happy in a way that very little else in this life does- and rewards me with a near-instantaneous gratification of a finished project. Children take a minimum of 20 years or so to measure and evaluate one’s work in child raising before one knows if they have achieved success… A forged pendant may take me- at most!- a week, and (hopefully!) be gorgeous besides.
This is not to say that my life is conducive to my passions. Quite the contrary! I protect my art time with a zealous vigor- come flood, mashed french fries and my children’s squabbles. I think that having to do so makes the time I spend creating even more special. When I had all the time in the world to devote to my art, I certainly didn’t appreciate it. I didn’t thankfully go to sleep each night thinking, “I’m so lucky I can sleep a solid and un-interrupted 9 hours tonight so I can work a full day in the shop tomorrow.” No, no- I frittered.
I went to bed late, and slept in even later. I spent long, lazy afternoons reading. Oh I would work on my projects, sure, but I didn’t squeeze every moment for every last possible ounce of creation. I sauntered through life with a smile and a laugh and had a marvelous time- I just didn’t know it. I think about those days now with a nearly raw envy for all that ‘wasted’ time that could have been spent usefully. I know I enjoyed it at the time- and I still enjoy the idea of a long uninterrupted afternoon reading- but think of all the things I could create! I may have to admit to trouble letting go of my work now and again.
However, there’s one crucial difference between the artist I was then, and the artist I am now. Then I only thought I loved what I was doing. It was fun, and it made me happy- and the love for the metal was there, but I wasn’t consumed. There was excitement, but no passion. Now I stay awake long into the night filing intricate designs, and catching up on my paperwork. I get up early to start my day job as “Mom” and lurking in the corners of my mind are thoughts that say things like, “Look at that shadow- what if you wrapped silver in that shadow and nestled some white sapphires in the corners to sparkle mysteriously…” and “I bet if I spend another three hours tonight on the SEO coding for the website, I can squeeze in some extra shop time around 11pm tonight before I write up those new listings and do the photographs…”
The changes in my life between then and now seem humongous. I used to make sculpture- now I make jewelry. And, really, that’s only a matter of scale. I used to be single, now I’m married with kids. That’s a matter of company- and yes, the majority of my time is spent very happily there with my loved ones, but I really think that my passion stems partly from the very lack of time. If you are told you will die June 23, 2060- 50 years in the future- how would you react? You would probably saunter leisurely, and take your time doing things that are not of the utmost importance… But what if you were told you would be dead tomorrow? Every second would be a precious commodity, not to be wasted on the inane or the frivolous.
Please don’t misunderstand me- if I knew I were to die tomorrow, I would spend my hours with friends and family, not with my tools- but the sense of urgency I feel when working on projects seems very much the same. The creation of pieces is an endeavor pulled from my inmost thought processes, and if I’m going to appear anything like sane, and not permanently bowled over by the insatiable onslaught of ideas, I need to work in my shop to be truly happy.