Thursday, December 23, 2010

Contentment in Troubled Times

It's nothing new to get a bit reflective as we approach New Year's Day. In my case, I've also been just a wee bit too busy the last three or four months to pause to write, so I'm overdue. The fall semester is finally over. And so, it's time to look up and notice the changes of the past year.

For full time potters, or artists in other media, the day to day struggle to be both productive and businesslike, can make it difficult to notice much of the future (except for show application deadlines) and almost nothing of the past (except for tax records). In this way, any artist without children might be excused for failing to pay much attention to the passing of whole decades. Really, what has changed? Hopefully, the work has improved, and maybe the money has increased, but the making and the selling remain remarkably the same from year to year. It's a sort of seaside ocean scene with crashing waves and shifting tides, but always the same ocean of hope and opportunity, dampness and cold.

It, the art-as-business cycle, could be easy to take for granted, and easy to think of as much much too important. Well, this year, too busy for many things, I have still managed to notice my friends, and to value them more. Marriages have broken. People have moved to new cities. Jobs have been lost, and sought, and a few won. My friends have begun to feel like a small fleet of independent ships, some disappearing over the horizon for a while, some close by almost every day. A couple have sunk. I can't steer their ships for them, nor protect them from the weather, but we keep an eye out for each other, and take some comfort in each others' company.

They are among my contentments, and I am noticing those more these days, too. The past year has been full of dramas and suspense. But it has also been a time in which I have paid more attention to my contentments, the little things that can never make you happy by themselves, but which stitched together like a quilt, make life warm and cheery. Whatever you contentments happen to be, I hope that they increase in the coming year, and that you find the serenity to truly appreciate them.