I’m running on empty. The baby has had the flu for the last few days and it appears that the boy is coming down with it next. I’ve been nurse, mother, and maid 24 hours a day to a crying, unhappy and altogether impossible patient. I’m tired, too. There’s been no horseback riding, no creative outlet and no quiet. Sleep is disturbed and stress levels are high.
In the middle of it all, with the sick baby in tow, I had coffee with an old friend. It was a friend I didn’t know I had. There are those out there, these special friends that aren’t claimed or named on Facebook. Or maybe they are on Facebook but it’s more like a friendly acknowledgement of one another than a person you think you can count on. Or learn from. Or reach.
The coffee was punctuated by an organic conversation that was eerily related to an interview I had recently heard. I believe it was only yesterday that I had the good fortune of being introduced to the wisdom of John O’Donahue on NPR. It is rare that I hear someone speak so well that practically everything they say is worth listening to. After his first sentence I had to turn his voice up so I could really hear him and after the second I had to take notes. One thing he encouraged was to have conversations that are so well-informing that you think about them for weeks later. As if by personal behest, my conversation today followed that dictate. I can assure you that much of what was said will pop up in this blog for a long time to come.
Another thing O’Donahue said that was of particular interest to me was the importance of people finding and doing the job they should be doing. He said that work is a complete expression of one’s gift. When you find someone doing the job they are meant to do, the gift is not only a gift for oneself, it is a gift to the community.
As if the script of my life had been pre-written in the most formulaic of formula scripts, after describing a journey of various professions, my friend says, “I finally feel like I’m doing something that best uses all of my skills and experience.”
That did it for me. After hearing this phenomena I know to be true verbalized so clearly on the radio and now seeing it in real time and real life, I have to admit, I’m jealous. I wish I could be expressing my gift through work. It’s not that I’m not working towards it but sometimes I feel tired of working towards something, I just want to be doing it. How about a whole new challenge besides just figuring it out? I don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to do anymore, I just want to do it. Whatever it is.
And I want to get paid for it. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think it is. I realize that I may be living in the wrong time to expect money in return for creative expression. We tend to be more interested in paying investment managers who make incomprehensible deals with virtually imaginary funds. More traditionally creative professions are losing value at an exponential rate. My friend described the music industry as tanking and print journalism as an endangered species. In my opinion, free media, reality shows and strikes have decimated the entertainment industry. Then there are books. How many fiction readers are being cultivated in the newest generations? I fear they are few and far between based on my own anecdotal evidence. I can’t count the comments strangers have made when they see my children entertaining themselves with books. “How extraordinary!” they exclaim. “I can’t remember the last time I saw that!”
That doesn’t leave much industry open to creative expressionists like me. What are we supposed to do with all this energy? Maybe opportunity will show its lovely face to me one of these days and I’ll have a clear and inspired answer to blog about.
Well, old friends can be new friends and I feel like mine put the spirit behind the words of John O’Donahue today. Isn’t it wonderful when real life performs the very dreams and concepts we struggle to grasp? I certainly felt like a little poem was recited for me today, over a perfectly warm latte, with a sick and tired baby to boot.