TITLE: Where is Your Light?
DATE: 9/29/2005 04:42:00 AM
I know a potter who has struggled for several years now. Juggling family and a business is not easy, but he has had additional burdens to bear.
His work sold well at a show last year and he finally had confirmation that his work was good--very good. After the drive home, though, the verdict wasn't so clear. Sure, his work sold well, but his prices were all wrong. He lost money in the end. He lost A LOT of money.
It nearly broke him, but he woke up each day for months and kept working toward his goal. This struggle required him to take an evening job at a grocery store. He kept his head high, despite this.
At a recent show I saw him every day for three days and each day he was easily the hardest working craftsman on his aisle in the show. He was up, animated, ready to go, smiling. Upon seeing me, he folded. Underneath all that effort was a man that was breaking. I left his booth each day seeing him with tears in his eyes. He was trying so hard. Even his wife was beginning to say, "Honey, pack it up. It's time to stop chasing this dream." Still, he took every piece of advice sent his way. Every day of the show he tweaked his signage, rearranged his shelves, rethought his approach. When he returned from this show, he again had confirmation of success. He had orders to fill and, thanks to his past lessons learned, he wasn't losing money on these sales.
Back at home, the potter now had to work out production problems. He could no longer rely on the uneven results of the gas kiln he owned. He also couldn't keep getting up in the middle of the night to drive several miles to the location where his kiln was housed. He used a friend's electric kiln and fired a handful of pieces with success. Now, he needed to find a way to afford the electric kiln, which would streamline his process and cut his costs (not to mention, his sleepless nights!). Still, he pressed on despite minimal sleep, the doubt of even his family, and the discouraging signs looming everywhere.
Then, one day, recently a letter arrived. His name was spelled wrong. The envelope could easily have been mistakenly tossed aside as junk mail.
In the envelope was a letter from a bank. The author of the letter seemed to be familiar with his story. The bank knew he needed a kiln, more time to develop his work, more opportunity to court craft retailers, more relationships with buyers,... a break. Having someone know his story and care enough to write a letter of concern meant a lot. But what gave him real pause was the $10,000 check from an anonymous donor that was attached to the lettter.
We can't all rely on faith alone to keep us pushing along toward out goal, and, unfortunately, we don't all have spouses to help us bear the load. At the end of the day, whatever our circumstances, we either have the energy to wake up and do it all again, or we don't.
But, isn't there somthing inspiring in the knowledge that others are dealing with the exact same strains, that we can lean on each other now and then, and that there is, somewhere/somehow, an inevitable light at the end of the tunnel?