I've come outside to be with my wolfie and think. It has been a hot, strange, and windy day--but just now the temperature dropped. Storm weather. Dark, oily clouds fill the sky, mixed with patches of blue and white, cloud-filled light. One thing that I've noticed through my writing is that, once again, I have taken to watching the sky. I started doing this when I lived out in the country and it seems to be something I do often, especially when I need to figure out my place in the world. Something about the sky helps me to better place myself in the grander scheme of things. The sky grounds me.
Today I worked at the bookstore. Since the job shift several months ago, I cut back to one day a week, plus doing all of their artwork. Between working at the garden shop, the bookstore, working on my thesis, and doing design work. I have been extremely busy, but happy. Today, however, sucked. And so did last week. I want to write about what is on my mind, yet I don't know where to start. If I were to try anyway...
The bookstore I work at is a truly magical place. It is a children's bookstore filled with art and animals and unusual surprises at every turn. I have loved every minute of working there...and yet...lately, it has left me feeling very unfulfilled and, at times, downright irritated. The days drag by so slowly that my shifts have been starting to feel the approximate length of eternity. I love my co-workers. I love being surrounded by books. I love the community. I love the animals. I love a lot of aspects about my job...but, lately, gah... It has been so incredibly BORING!!! To be chaotically busy and bored at the same time is a very evil mix--and, with summer now here, the chaos will only grow.
I only work there once a week because it is all I can afford. The pay is HORRIBLE and so, in the end, I feel like I've done little more than volunteer my time. Volunteerism is great in theory but, let's face it, it's still retail.
One thing that I am grateful for is that the bookstore has kept me actively involved in art making. If it wasn't for my job there, it would have been all too easy to let art fall by the wayside. I've never wanted to be the kind of artist who doesn't actually make art (and this is something that happens all too often), but the bookstore kept that from happening. All the times that I felt like I was too busy to paint or draw or create, I would end up with a request for a mural or a poster or a chalkboard drawing or something....something that got me into my studio...something that "forced" me to put my other work aside, put on some music, brew a fresh pot of coffee, roll up my sleeves, pull out the paint, the pastels, the colored pencils, and CREATE. Yes, the bookstore kept me connected to that part of myself.
I don't know. Working there less has had the unexpected effect of disconnection. I feel out of touch with all of the new books coming in and I don't have time to actually keep up with the reading anyway. Even if I did, these days, I would rather be reading adult books. Picture books are great...but lately I am so hungry for a deeper level of content. Not to mention, I rarely even see the same customers anymore.
This past year, children's literature has been the balm that helped heal the wounds caused by grad school. But, oy...I think I feel another transition coming on. The question is, when will I allow this transition to take place? When I moved to Minneapolis, I made a list of "dream jobs." They weren't jobs that would make me rich or successful, they were jobs that I felt would make me most happy. Oddly enough, those are the two jobs that I got. Yes, I believe in the power of letting the universe know what you want! And, yet, I never intended either of those jobs to be my "forever" jobs. They were the jobs that I wanted to help me "decompress" from a rough patch in life. And so they have.
If I were to be honest with myself, I would admit that what I really want to do is return some of my time and energy to the making of art. Not chalkboard drawings or window murals or silly posters for kids--but real art--my art.
I felt a not-so-subtle shift in myself today. I was talking to another artist about her work when it happened...when I realized that it was time to return to the work I need to do. Really, what I felt was bitter and a little bit angry, jealous and inspired all at the same time. The feeling was short-lived and intense... but these sorts of emotions are a serious sign of something important going on under the surface. I mean, come on. The problem is that it is the bookstore's busy season and we are already seriously understaffed. Granted, the reason they are understaffed is because they don't pay enough. But despite low wages I am still in love with the place and I still feel a sense of commitment to it and to everyone that I work with.
I can't do everything--even though I am trying to. I know it is not possible to do all of the things I want to do. But how do I gracefully move on? Is grace even possible?
My questions are: HOW? And WHEN? And will my choices ever amount to anything in the end, anyway?