Friday, August 6, 2010

Making a Living With Art?


Sometimes it’s easy to get dragged into your day…and the day isn’t a very inspiring one.

That was my day on Wednesday. I had what felt like an army of workmen at my house, in and out, lugging materials around for the air and heat system. They kept me in the loop as far as what they were doing (although I didn’t understand a word of it.) And my daughter was dying to get out of the house (probably because we couldn’t get out of the house.)

The salesman who sold us the system, which cost a pretty penny, dropped by on Wednesday afternoon to check and make sure I was happy with the installation so far and that the workers were doing all right in the extreme heat they were working in.

I noticed he kept looking into my living room. Then, he finally asked me with some hesitation, “Do you mind if I play your piano?”

Please play the piano,” I said. “It’s dying to be played.”

I thought I might hear The Entertainer or maybe Frère Jacques but he launched right into a complex and long bit of classical music that I wasn’t familiar with. He played without any hesitation and it was fantastic.

The men came down out of the attic to listen to him play and I moved into the living room. We all applauded when he was done. It totally took me out of the HVAC replacement doldrums.

“That was amazing,” I told him. “I can only play Twinkle Twinkle.”

“I was a music major in college,” he said, “but my dad told me that no one would pay me to play the piano, so I started working with air and heat installation. Then I was promoted to sales…but the piano is my first love.” And he was probably in his late-fifties. “I just wish I could make a living at it.”

I told him I completely understood—that I wrote books. But my husband makes a nice living so that I can write books instead of earning a living.

Which makes me think—how many of us out there are downgrading our artistic talents to hobbies? I know plenty of us don’t have the need to share what we write or the music we play or the paintings we create…and that’s totally understandable. But I wonder how many of us would be pursuing something artistic full-time—if only we could make a living at it.

Also, my friend Dave on My Year on the Grill reviewed Delicious and Suspicious and cooked a recipe from the book. :) If you’re in the mood for some comfort food, pop by for some country fried steaks.