Hope and Defiance
I don't journal, and I don't draw. I wish I did, but it's never caught on for me. I doodle sometimes, and I carry a notebook always, so I can jot down random thoughts that seem like they might want to go somewhere later. I would love to create those beautiful art journals and sketch books I imagine all "real" artists to have. I even beat myself up over my failings at this, telling myself I can't be a real artist if I don't do these things. Absurd, I know. But don't we all have these illogical confidence meltdowns now and then?
I sat at the torch the other day, notebook open to this dumb little doodle, and the words practically flew out of the pencil on their own. (I always use pencil. I just happen to like it.) I'm not sure if Hope and Defiance are the best way to approach a day of creative endeavor, but there they were. The Hope is obvious, I guess. I was certainly hoping I would make something that someone would want to buy. Thoughts of going out and getting a job have been going through my head recently, and they aren't happy thoughts. I am embarrassed by my lack of a resume, not to mention my lack of education or formal training of any sort. Despite a long and varied list of jobs, I have no solid, provable skills I can market. At a particularly low point the other day, I told Rick that if I can't make this bead thing work anymore, then I deserve to be punished. And to me, the worst thing I can think of would be to work at Walmart.
That's where Defiance stood up and cleared its throat, reminding me that I am a Miles Girl, after all, and we Miles Girls do not crumple and cringe when things get challenging. We get tough, and we get to work. So I sat my self down and made some beads, determined to disprove the childhood message that I would never make my way in the world as an artist. Too impractical. Too competitive. Too uncertain... My parents weren't consciously trying to squash my creative nature. They just wanted to be sure I could make a living in the big, mean world. I can't believe I'm still battling that particular demon. I've already proven that I can too make a living making beads. I hesitate these days to call myself an artist, but I have to believe that somehow I can keep doing what I do best, with heart and soul and a bit of brain, and continue to make my way in the world as me.
But Defiance gets tired, and Hope forgets who it is sometimes. After posting two new batches of beads this week, and watching them sit there, sit there, sit there, I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon looking online for jobs in Taos. There was nothing. Truly nothing for me. And so, feeling like I needed a good flogging, I opened the Walmart website and began filling out an application. No resume required. No degree even wanted. I've seen the people who work there. They all appear to be beaten down, unhappy drones. I was sure I would fit in nicely.
Fortunately, Defiance came around again, after a bit of a rest, bringing up the little fact that we don't even shop at Walmart. Haven't for years. We do not support their crush-kill-destroy business philosophy, choosing instead to shop at small local businesses whenever possible, and online as much as necessary. We do not go to Walmart. But I was beginning to imagine myself as some sort of Gloria Steinem, infiltrating the Playboy Club. Imagine all the great blogging material I'd come up with. And Hope joined in and said maybe it wouldn't be so bad. It might even be kind of fun to take on the task of making people happy at Walmart. I reminded Hope that it probably wouldn't last long. I'd likely be found out. Someone in management would discover my blog, or determine me to be too happy, and therefore unfit for service. And then I'd be fired from Walmart, which would be the greatest failure, and blessing, I could ever imagine...
All this was going on in my head while I mindlessly clicked away at the application. And then I got to the "references" section. It took me about two seconds to realize there is not one single person I could put down there. Not one person I would want to admit to that I was actually asking for a job at Walmart. In that instant, I snapped out of it, came back to my sensible senses, and killed that browser window. And when I clicked over to my email... a miracle... I had sold some beads while I was lost in Walmart Hell. By the time I went to bed last night, I had reeled in about a month's worth of Walmart wages. And so, I took this to mean that God does indeed still want to make beads with me. A sign when I most needed it.
Maybe I just had to prove what I'm willing to do to keep this ship from sinking. I had to be willing to cheerfully take on the worst thing I could imagine happening. It's almost biblical in tone... Artist comes to the very end of her rope, and just as she's about to fall into the abyss, lost for all eternity, she is scooped up by giggling angels and set gently back in her studio. Those angels are named Hope and Defiance. I will love them forever. And maybe they'll even teach me how to draw someday.
Hope and Defiance Audio Version:
Friday, November 19, 2010