The day began with rains—unexpected, cold, but all the more welcome. Suddenly, winter had begun in one fell swoop, and hours of winds blowing all over town and never-ending showers. When the rain did stop, it was already nightfall. I sat there working, forgetting all about the first thing I said after waking up. “This is a day for long naps. Whoever works on a day like this?” But then, I had worked for the entirety of it. Life had decided not to go per plan again. I was not disappointed by this; if anything, I was happy. I had spent a day doing something I do not quite detest.
Sure, living your days doing things you enjoy is a blessing, but most of life is not about blessings. It is about whatever is left if you count all your blessings away—the space. The dishes are not the most vital part of the day on most days, but they are what is left when all is said and done, when the hours have passed, when it is all over. It is still a blessing to have dishes around the sink. More than most people imagine or, often, are willing to admit. We are taught to hate the ordinary. Everything must either be some grand adventure or a sordid tragedy. There was a time I would have cried and thrown a fit over being stuck in a rut and being forced to work for others, but now, I see it as what it is: freedom. As long as I keep working, I can keep writing these words, which will be better for it, for they will not be exchanged for bread. They will be pure and untarnished, honest and unadorned, just and fair. It is the greatest thing an artist can do for themselves—build a life outside of it.
A few years ago, a friend and I sat on the grass in the square enclosed by the many buildings of a mall complex in a busy city. We would get coffee and talk about how we would keep working as artists and finding new ways to say things we wanted. I am still waiting for his film to come out. He, perhaps, is equally eager for my book. But when I meet him now, he never talks about art. He talks about ads and money, and bending his camera till the cash is in focus.
But you could do that and not sell your soul, I wonder. I do not know how to tell him this, but I wish I could; God, I wish I could.