Sometime, when the team is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, I think of one thing: "I could open up a bait shop." That feels like such a relief. Selling nightcrawlers to some of the most relaxed people on the planet: fishermen. I wouldn't even have to worry about whether they caught anything. I would have to endure the stories of the one that got away, but that would be okay. Most of the time I would sit out front, waiting for the sun to go down so I could hear about the day's travails. Fishermen's travails, mind you. Not the "Deadliest Catch" kind of travails,either. All the life and death stuff would be limited to a few trout and some drowned worms.
But that's a dream. As was the suggestion my wife made to me a few mornings back: "What if you could get up in the morning and make a picture, and people would pay you for it?" She may have been reflecting on the episode of "Parks and Recreation" we had watched the night before, where Tom Haveford (Aziz Ansari) pays a commercial artist to paint a picture that he can pass off as his contribution to his office mural project. Or maybe she was contemplating the life we had both found as intermittently practicing artists ourselves.
As a freshman in college, I chose Studio Art as a major. My faculty adviser was the head of the fine arts department, and I looked forward to many hours spent in and around studios where I would be splashing paint around, or carving great totems, or welding sculptures that stretched to the sky. That never happened. It turned out that my imagination was never a perfect match for my enthusiasms. I had great ideas for objects d'art, but not nearly enough d'edication to pull them off. For a year, I kept a model of what I envisioned as a towering edifice that described man's inhumanity to man. Or something like that. Maybe it was a rocket ship. I don't know. It never got big enough to be either one. It was just a wood model in a shoe box.
Over the years, I have put in a lot of effort at painting that picture for money. Okay, maybe not a lot of effort, but it has always been my wish that I might someday get paid for my creative endeavors. I didn't get paid for the mural I painted on the floor of the loft in my friend's dorm room. I didn't get paid for the cartoon I painted on the wall outside of my own dorm room. By the time I was done with my freshman year, I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to get paid for painting.
Many years later, when we moved into our own house, my wife and I finally felt the freedom to paint on our own walls. We didn't get paid, but the entryway got a bit of whimsy with the appearance of broken bricks giving way to a bright blue sky overhead. My son's room got the most attention. My wife and I worked for the first nine months of our little boy's life to create a border that went around the top of that room, depicting the adventures of Little Pig. Later, when it became clear that trains were a life-giving force to our son, we painted a version of Casey Jr., the locomotive from Disney's Dumbo over the head of his bed. And then I pretty much put my brushes away, with the exception of the periodic touch ups I have to do on the side of the house. That's one color and doesn't require a lot of creativity, especially since we picked the colors out years ago.
Still, I wonder what life might be like if I woke up and went into art mode. My younger brother does that. When he isn't driving a bus or helping out in that community way he has. My wife does that, when she isn't administering her special brand of wisdom to the Parent Teacher Organizations of the world or getting someone else's website running or - come to think of it - I know a lot of people who are artists. They just do it in their spare time. And there's an art to that, too. Just like running a bait shop.