Thursday, November 9, 2023

The Rat Race


Tis the season...

Facebook has been showing me 'memories' and of course at this time of year, most of my posts were about craft fairs.  Being at them, selling my work.

I miss craft fairs.  Truly.  When I 'retired' from doing them I thought I could still participate - and then covid happened.  Since covid isn't 'gone', 'we' are all just ignoring it (well, some of us *can't*), so instead of volunteering in the guild booth, I just send my boxes of textiles and let the guild earn the commission on what they sell.  I feel bad about not helping, but neither do I want to catch covid (or flu or a cold or whatever other virus may be floating around).

And yes, I mask, AND I've had the most recent booster, but the vaccine doesn't prevent you from catching covid, only from getting really sick if you do.  A mask is actually the better tool for preventing catching any virus, but the viral load in a crowd with little ventilation means the odds of something 'catching' you gets, well, riskier than I like.

Frankly I've been quite happy to NOT catch a cold or flu, never mind covid, so I continue to isolate and mask when I do go out.

But all those photos of the various booths that Facebook has been feeding me as 'memories' plus reading an essay about the way our society (North American, primarily) has shaped itself to push, push, push, accomplish more, rise higher in the rat pack, strive for more until 'enough' isn't even a concept, has left me thinking about my own pursuit of a career in the world of textiles.

I don't miss the rat race - the critical deadlines that I daren't miss or I might not have enough money to get through the winter.  I don't miss the working 'sick' (whether it was contagious or my own body in revolt).  I don't miss the implied criticism of the (fortunately) few who would make comments about my 'high' prices.  Once I became more assured in my own self it was easier to shake those off - but they never really stopped stinging.

And I thought about how hard I drove myself, in the pursuit of sales, teaching gigs, published articles.  How stressful it was.

And yet.  

And yet, I love weaving.  I can't imagine my life without it.  Which is largely why I am working so hard to regain what function I can from this injured body.  

The essay talked about how people work, work, work and then collapse, only to do it all over again. 

I thought about how much that observation 'fit' me.  Except, that instead of hating my job, I loved it.  Not all of it, of course not.  But the weaving?  I loved it.  Still do.

For the time I am at the loom I can set the worries of the world aside (some days are easier than others - lately it's been damned hard) and just focus on being.

Being at one with the loom, the yarn.  Being present in the moment.

It's all the other stuff that has to go along with the making - the selling, the being in business, etm.

But ultimately I was not in the 'rat race' to climb ever higher.  I haven't done what I've done to gain accolades.  I knew from the beginning that I don't get to claim a title, or a prize.  What I can do is learn.  Learn as much as I can.  And then share what I learn with others.  Help them.  If they aren't interested in what I have to say, they can ignore me.  And I'm perfectly ok with that.

I am not saying I don't appreciate the honours I've received.  But that is just the cherry on top.  Because my goal was never to get a 'star' on a walk of fame.  My goal was not so much to be an influencer, but simply to share information.  If I have influenced anyone, it is because they saw the value in what I was saying, that they could see embracing the technique or process and have it improve their practice.

So by the time I finished reading the article, I was able to say, yes, I participated in the 'rat race' by working too many hours, putting life on hold at times.  But along the way, I *also* loved the part that drew me to the craft in the first place.  And quite frankly, if I was going to be in a 'rat race', one that included me at the loom for hours every day was one I was willing to run.

But I also knew that it wasn't so much a 'race' as it was a journey.  It was, at times, damned difficult.  But there was no contest, or at least I wasn't competing against another weaver.  I was only ever trying to improve myself.

So I took to celebrating other weavers.  I am happy to put other weaver's books and classes and textiles on share on my social media.  Because we are not competitors - we are colleagues.  And when one of us does something good, we all benefit.

"No man is an island" is something I took to heart a very long time ago, and I still believe that.  

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