"And you thought you wouldn't have anything to do." That's what a friend said to me yesterday when I told him how I had spent my day. He was referring to a conversation we had had a few months ago when I was facing a future of watching day-time TV, knitting at noon and becoming one of those women whose lives revolves around working out at the Y and getting regular pedicures. I was preferring a lobotomy in my worrying.
But here's what happens when you see the future and don't like the potential, or lack of potential, you see. You change it.
My tutoring gig for Latins has dissolved because Congress cut our funding; and except for my weekly columns, the newspaper writing has dissolved because the publisher has squeezed the budget to eliminate people like me. My children have moved out, my needy mother lives hundreds of miles away, and here I sit. The idea of getting a job isn't unreasonable, but I wonder what sort of job I could get with no degree and in a small town with few options. Plus, I wonder about the fairness of taking a job so I don't feel bored during the day when there are plenty of people around here who need that job so they and their children can eat.
So, I proposed an idea to Conductor Eric from the local orchestra. How about I launch a newsletter to be sent to the orchestra mailing list to encourage a tighter community of supporters and to keep everyone informed between concerts—I am organized, I can design, I can write, and I'd like to put all those abilities to good use. The idea took off, and after a series of meetings with the promotional people and board president, here I am about to launch the first issue. It will be sent out in a couple of weeks, and I'll link to it after that. I can see this becoming like a job minus the paycheck with lots of thought going into the contents and then lots of time going into gathering the contents.
Beyond that, you really just can't tell what's going to come your way, and yesterday was full. A friend who teaches high school percussionists asked me to create a T-shirt these boys had roughly sketched out. A friend who sells musical instruments to schools asked me to create an ad for a band show program. The orchestra is planning ahead for a festival next May, and I worked on the logo to go with the promotional material. I haven't spent so much time in my office, sitting at my big Mac computer with Adobe applications since my days as a bookcover designer.
And, with the help of some friends, I'm stewing an idea and letting it simmer for flavor. What do you think of this—a monthly meeting of people who gather to learn and create and express. Each meeting would include an artistic element like the reading of a poem or prose and/or a musical performance, possibly the viewing of a particularly well-done short film, a presentation by a guest speaker and discussion following, and then some snacky things and wine. We have some interesting people around here who would make great guests—an advocate for Hispanic immigrants who serves as interpreter in court and in daily life, an artist who runs the local art center (she could lead us in a hands-on project), the founder of the local farm market, a retired English teacher who plays guitar...there would be few rules, beyond no politics or religion...there would be room to let the event evolve over time...We're thinking of this as a mini-Chautauqua Institute.
So, there is plenty to do out there, outside the front door. You just have to go looking for it and make it happen.