Sunday, March 13, 2016

To Set a Course, To Change Course

The view from my company's NYC office in the Garment District. Check out the dress form.

I have not moved to New York! I just went on a business trip. 

Maybe this is strange, but sometimes I try to imagine the other paths I could have taken in life. It leads me to a lot of questions.

What is a good life?

Why would you change your life?

How many chances to we get to make a big change?

If every other step in my life hadn’t gone the way it has gone, how different would I be?

I wouldn’t be as confident in learning to sew if I couldn’t take Craftsy classes, like this one, this one and this one.

I wouldn’t know as much as I do about knitting if I hadn’t dedicated so much of my last 17 years to it. A lot of that learning process was at the very beginning, but a great deal of it has been in the last few years. Bill Bryson says, every time that he writes a book about grammar or writing, he learns a lot more about it. I feel the same way about my knitting and writing.

Whenever I have a small fit of professional jealousy (it always passes if I sit quietly and maybe have a snack), I remember that Alison Bechdel has had periods of her life when that sort of jealousy nearly consumed her. That makes me feel much better, since I admire her work.

…and I try to remember something a fellow student told me when I was in grad school. I told him I was worried that I wasn’t as good as the other students, including him. He said, “Everyone will always be at different levels. The question is, are you improving?”

I had a career that I know a lot of people think was glamorous and exciting. It could be. It often wasn’t. I know people think that because many, many strangers I met told me that they envied my job. If they counted my nights away from home, the times I felt breathless panic when my phone rang, the moments when I had to respond blandly to another person’s pain or rage, or the meals with friends and family that I had to miss, would they still be jealous?

Is the popular-culture image of the artist as a tortured soul a way for society to assuage its envy of the artist as a “non-producer”? If you spend your day chopping wood, the guy who paints may seem a bit frivolous, right? So you imagine that he’s just bent up inside, unable to do a normal job, compelled by some dark force beyond your reckoning?

I could have been a lawyer.
I could have been a full-time teacher.
I could have remained a photographer.
I could have been a more well-known knitwear designer.
I could have been a professional seamstress.

Those all would have taken a change in my life to happen.

This is pretty rambling! This is what I am, instead of any of those one things.

I’m an artist. I also have a day job. I’m happy with that. Can I always do things as quickly as I like? Do I get to pursue every possible chance to practice my art? No and no. But, that’s ok with me. Maybe I’ve seen too many freelance photographers dangle over the precipice of contracts that don’t get paid on time and living on rice to make it all work. I have security and (usually) enough resources to do what I need to do to keep myself sane.
I’m an artist. My mediums are the written word, knitting, photography, sewing, weaving and spinning. My exact relationship to each of those things is evolving every day. 

I’m learning to be ok with that
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