Reflecting on this week, I realize that I spent an insanely inordinate amount of time making cards and preparing video tutorials. I almost feel guilty. I’ve got other creative pursuits in the works that went largely neglected this week, pursuits which feel like labor, which involve serious mental strain, and which will no doubt take months to complete. Labor?… Or fun… Must find balance.
Anyway, I papercrafted like a vandal, completed cards for loved ones, produced tutorials, progressed with my original line of patterned papers. Time flew by and I was a happy camper! Was it wrong to spend all my days doing only what felt entirely pleasurable? Wow – a year ago, I never imagined I would find myself in this beautiful predicament. Had I not busted my a** working double shifts and teaching multiple multi-level classes the last year, I don’t think I’d be able to appreciate this wonderful time of life to the extent that I do, and I’m so so grateful.
Perhaps it makes sense, then, that I’m doing so much card-making. For me, gratitude and card-making have always been inextricably intertwined. Time spent making a card is an opportunity to sit with my memories of the recipient, appreciate who that person is and the role he or she has played in my life. During the most stressful periods of my life, the simple act of making a card literally saved me, primarily by helping me silence a very unattractive inner whiner, and instead imagine how happy I would make the recipient. Ultimately, card-making helped me remember all the things that I ought to be deeply grateful for.
I hate to use that modal, “ought to,” I’ve never responded well to it. But it seems to me that as a society which has fattened in abundance, (Yeah, I said it – ABUNDANCE. Despite the economic downturn, this is what the rest of the world calls ABUNDANCE) rather than face the painfully disturbing inequities between our way of life and that of our brothers and sisters across the globe, it has become easier just to turn a blind eye. We have become spoiled. I have become spoiled. I would guess that many of us are highly dissatisfied much of the time. What a waste of our energies when there is so much for which we ought to be thankful.
This week, I found out that a great mentor of mine, a professor I had in graduate school, Earle Gister, passed away. It made me contemplate how thankful I am to have had him as my teacher. Like all of us, he was flawed. But what distinguished him from the rest of us was the potent talent he possessed. He was an artist to the core. Being in his presence when he was at work was no less than euphoric. As I made my card, I spent a good deal of time meditating on the positive role he played in my life, how essential he was in fostering my deep appreciation for theater, for art in general, for its potential to make change, to open minds. Sadly, for many years, I was too conflicted about my graduate school experience to properly thank him. But I have always been and will be forever grateful to this ridiculously talented, deeply feeling artist, for giving me a profound understanding of what it means to be human, for teaching me, among many other things, how to achieve universality through specificity.
If you are so inspired, pick up your crafting tools and make a card for someone who has mentored you. Or just pick up a pen and write a note of thanks. Having been a teacher for 15 years, I know that those thank you notes I received along the way made me feel like what I was doing was worthwhile, like I had made a difference. We all need recognition.
And so I give you Gratitude Fridays, a series of video tutorials which will upload to youtube for your viewing pleasure periodically on Fridays. A small effort on my part to help you in the regular practice of gratitude. Not just on Thanksgiving.
Click on the link to see the crafty action!!! Gratitude Friday, Episode 1. As a teaser, let me give you a glimpse of what we’ll create this week.