I have a dilemma. I have something that I am dying to share. Yet, it is so ridiculous and silly, and I think that it makes me look like a very silly person. Not fun silly, but shallow silly. I'm just going to lay it out there and you can think what you want. Maybe you already think I'm shallow.
I commissioned a portrait of my dog.
I know, I know. If that isn't an indication that someone needs to adjust their priorities, I don't know what is. Bear with me, though. Let me try and justify myself.
Josh's step-mom, Carol, is an artist. She had been painting since she was a teenager, but like a sensible person, she did not really attempt to paint for a living. Instead, she went to work at Wachovia as a program manager, and she did that for twenty-some years. She was successful at this job and she enjoyed much of it, because she has many of the skills required. But inside, she felt like a painter. You'd be surprised at how many sensible people have secret artists living inside them.
Last year, she quit her job at Wachovia, now Wells Fargo. She was still a sensible type, because she left when the company was encouraging people to leave by offering them very generous packages. And she moved up to the mountains with her husband to be an artist full-time. When I play board games with my brother's family, and someone does something that appears to be crazy, but could turn out great, we say they are making a bold move. So while I might say that what she did was brave and admirable, someone else might call it crazy and stupid. Let's just meet in the middle and say it was a bold move.
But you know what? I think it's wonderful and amazing when people do that. I admire risking your own financial stability to really take a running jump at something important to you. If I did not admire that, I could not be engaged to Josh. Smartest person I know, college drop-out, waits tables, works hard at playing rock music because when they asked him what he wanted to do for a living, that's what he came up with. I think that's awesome.
It's completely and totally true that some of this is me living vicariously through the artists in my life. Once upon a time, I was going to be a starving writer. But I am a sensible person raised by sensible people, and I became a software engineer. For some reason, writing computer words is much more lucrative than writing people words. Seeing Josh and Carol makes me feel like I chickened out sometimes. I should be suffering for my art, too! Instead, I write software, which is something that I enjoy and that I am good at. I get to wear jeans to work and drink free soda while I am paid to use my brain. I have one of the best jobs in the world. Each of us contains many possibilities, and there is no one right one. And who knows? Maybe in twenty-some years, I'll quit to move to the mountains and write people words (don't worry, Mama, you'll be dead by then).
The nice thing about being a software engineer with a secret artist inside is that I have the means to support other people's art. Josh has eaten Ramen before, and he'd do it again, but he doesn't have to. Likewise, I wanted to support Carol's art. I came up with the idea of asking her to do a portrait of my dog. I floated the idea by her, with lots of room for her to turn it down. She responded enthusiastically. I offered money, which she declined. I sent her a bunch of pictures I had taken of Remix, and between us we picked out which would work the best.
And now, I have a custom piece of artwork, featuring the dog of my heart, made by an artist that I know personally. Every time I see it, I will be happy, because that is my awesome dog. And every time Carol see it, she will feel proud and supported as an artist. It is a silly thing, but I think it's the good kind of silly.