Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Light

If asked for the most important lesson I've learned about living well with a chronic illness, I would say this: Think of a meaningful life goal and chip away at it to matter how slowly you have to do it, and no matter how unusually you have to go about it.  Don't wait until you are "better" to start.  Trust me when I say that hoping and striving for wellness and weaving a path towards a goal, based on what you can do now, can coexist.  Nothing has enriched my life more deeply or persistently than learning that.

Metalsmithing is my absolute passion.  I don't work 40 hours per week.  I wish I could travel to seminars and workshops but I can't.  I wouldn't be able to pay all of our bills with my business alone.  I wish I could apprentice with a master goldsmith or have a booth at arts festivals, and right now it's not feasible.  I work from my home studio on a schedule that my body mostly dictates, learning new skills in fits and starts over the years, sometimes closing my shop for a few weeks when I need to.

But this oasis of productivity, of striving for something, accomplishing something, having a goal and a purpose and a payoff, even in small increments, makes the difference between feeling completely imprisoned by circumstances, and feeling like I hold some control over my own fate and future and joy.  Every minute I spend with metal yielding under my hands is a minute of satisfaction, the ripples of which spread out across the rest of my existence.

I say this: find your metalsmithing.  Even if it's writing a sentence per week of a novel or children's book, or, if you're trapped at home, challenging yourself to take photos of your usual surroundings in a way that captures them unusually.  String beads; teach yourself a programming language in as much time as you need to take; start a blog and write movie reviews.  I don't care.  Whatever you dream of.  Whatever winding road you need to take.  However slowly.

We won't all "triumph."  It's just not a promise the world makes to us.  But most of us can at least build, find, steal, pockets of accomplishment, satisfaction and control, and I fervently hope that for most us they will also be enough to make pushing on worthwhile. 

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