Guinea feathers from Marcy Grant's farm. Magnolia seed pods from a forest nearby her property
There is a saying amongst the ancestors in my family: "To see the soul of an animal, look into it's eyes. To see the soul of a man, look into his eyes.... and his hands."
This, my friends, has proven to be true. You will see what people not only through their hands (the Gypsies knew the story of human lives in reading the lines of the palms of their hands), but what they have done with them.
My own hands are well worn and practical. There is nothing particularly lovely or well manicured about them. Their lines will speak to you about mundane things, such as household chores. There is a scratch, a nick: the dangerous work animals I've done in the past. There are grooves on the edges of some fingers: where a never ending serious of drawing pencils and paintbrushes have perched, creating art. For all of this, my hands are small and, lately, their work feels inconsequential....
It's hard to know what to write in this space, this public spot where, similarly, so many people write about their lives. This world, this little blogging realm, is a modern phenomenon: so many people put so many interested, enchanting, enlightening posts up into the electronic atmosphere...a dizzying array of words about existences. Starting THIS blog, about a whole new adventure that might be the craziest and most unknown thing in my life, I wanted to stay honest, and at times, that means bursting a certain bubble of perception about myself, or this funny life I'm living.
Right now, I am trying to hold onto everything I have with both hands. While the world looks dreamy up front (and it is!), the business of being an artist is not easy. You may snicker at this, but there it is, the constant haggling to keep something most people consider at least a lifestyle choice (true enough) and at most, a convenient excuse to ditch working, paying bills, and other doldrums some people would rather skip out on, themselves.
I want to simply say: it's a fun time, truly, but I am no different than you. I have HAD a job or rather, various "regular" jobs for over 10 years, working with animals. But these weren't easy jobs, and what eventually, fully, drove me away was the realization--then--of what's come to pass now.
See, it's easy to look at an artist and say: "why would I live my life with uncertainty?" To be an artist might be foolish, best get oneself a practical degree and then a secure job. Friends, at least in this country, ALL JOBS--with a few exceptions (politics, anyone?), are rarely secured anymore. I've known folks with Master's Degrees, Ph.D's even, who are out of work. I've seen folks tenured for thirty or forty years suddenly booted out of a job because a previously successful business has suddenly gotten the trap door sprung from underneath it. The truth of the matter is that security, truly, lies in the heart of each person; the knowledge that in any storm, there is within oneself the ability to find footing somewhere.
I would need this more than ever.
All around me, I see people groan and grumble under their breath as loyalties to the companies crumble. As they lose jobs (jobs they barely liked, mind you, but which "paid benefits"), assurances AND insurances, family benefits, hours, or any number of things--I, meanwhile, would change my full-time job to part time status
And eventually leave the madness of office life altogether. This was no attempt to ditch responsibilities; I should hardly think that one would rest on their laurels while creating and running a freelance animal care business, LEADING a dance troupe, LEADING a Farm writing group, running a little art business, and more.
Slowly, surely, my involvement with the handmade, creative life would wend me towards the ideas of laying roots but, of course, this being me, I was not content with the archetypal picket fence suburb-ed life, no siree. My active personality wanted more than convenience shopping (which never is convenient, mind you), and the normal four walls.
There was no doubt that I wanted a farm...I've wanted one now for how long, I don't know. I wanted to use muscle and mind to create my life. I was tired of the pricey food, the expensive and cheaply made items I was forced to buy in the city, and the grind of urban life. It was too much, too fast, very impersonal.
For a long time, I'd searched for jobs around the countryside. There were silly little plans with what to do with this phantom of future property, the least of which was to stretch the bones; the urban life will crush you into it's own particular mental and physical submission, at times. Even the idea of putting up a hammock, outside, was something I'd throw a parade about. I wanted to learn how to grow and preserve food or, heck, at least plant this cache of seeds I'd been saving for the last year or so. Maybe it's mad to be curious to recreate the life your grandmother had, but I had a hankering for just that. I wanted to ride a horse, and card wool and get ridiculously dirty and not care. Stupid little dreams...and yet, as unreachable as if I asked to become the queen of a country.
Finally, last year, it looked like our little crooked path had straightened. Perhaps it was a mixture of hoping, manifesting, networking, and general good fellowship, but I was meeting new people, going to other parts of the country I could not have wildly imagined, and exchanged kindnesses with souls along the way. There were prospective jobs and an actual, possible, farm to live on. This would change our situation in the city, which was deteriorating as our client bases were drying up, as are much of the jobs in the city now.
I had big ideas for this farm, as well as the horse drawn wagon tour.....
But now... now that seems uncertain. While I won't go into the details, it would seem that our previous plans will probably not come to pass. To be fair, there is no finger-pointing about the situation: there is no one to blame and at best, I can only say that the shape of the events were tossed about by the fates and the economics of the time.
This news, of course, came right when I got back to the city. After a month of being away, of being fully able to meet even more wonderful people, work with animals, and get so many projects done, I returned to a sterile, stifling place. There are no vast expanses here, no eager or knowledgeable friends wishing me onward with my crazy projects. There are obviously no horses with which to train--and with dwindling job prospects and no new projects to learn or do, there's a feeling of..well...community discord,stagnation and...uselessness.
So, the best laid plans are on the lurch. I am trying to stay focused on other ideas to get us better footing but--honest to goodness--I've no idea right now what that is. I have some ideas, but my bigger worry lies not in failure--but in the uncertainty of it. I don't mind the wolf at the door, but I dread staring out into the darkness, not knowing if there is a fact a wolf nearby, an even darker and more danger beast, or if my mind is working overtime creating a monster that doesn't even exist. This should be a cake walk: I KNOW this isn't as bad as it could be, and I am humbled--besides, in my life, I've literally and figuratively tackled large unruly animals, even more violently unruly people, and any plethora of obscene scenarios. But uncertainty? That will sink me as if I were thrown into the rapids wearing cement shoes.
There are either now very few options, or too many options, moving forward. Right now, farms, jobs, wedding plans...all seem to be so far away. All these hands want to do is hammer a life out of jagged rock, but they now seem tied. What the next step is seems continually, perpetually, a mystery. I have a few ideas of regrouping, but I feel like I'm in a never ending magic trick: I reveal the prestige of making a wall disappear to expose...yet another wall!
So what do you do with a beekeeper/artist/organizer/writer/dancer/somewhat-horse driving expert with no foothold anywhere to speak of?