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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just above the homeless

There are so many organizations and causes helping the homeless. Welfare. I am one person. I can knit a pair of socks or a lovely hat. What do I do. Donate it to Goodwill? My effort to help the cause? I once overheard a conversation between two well-suited women how they have sorters who go through the donations and take out the expensive donations, the nice things. Apparently they go to special auctions, or get taken by certain personnel. The money earned at special auction goes towards paying administration. It never hits the poor. OK.

But there is something more than the poor out there. There is a whole tier of women who live these lives of gray air getting by from day to day always wishing. They work, but always just above minimum wage and at unappreciated jobs. They eat frozen dinners and live in sparce apartments or apartments decorated from thrift stores where their wardrobe also comes from. They get a lot of catalogs in the mail and wish they could afford these lovely clothes. They spend so much time wishing they don't even know they are doing it. It is just a part of their nature.

It is all they know and there is a loneliness associated with it that is so profound that they have burried themselves in a closet and don't even realize that they are hidden from view in a society that does not recognize that they exist. There is no help for them. They earn too much for this and not enough for that. No one sees them because we are too busy with our own inner lists.

But I see them. I see them because if it were not for my creativity and the intensity of it, I would live in such a gray world. My world is full because of carefully placed plants, pieces of fabrics, my sewing and knitting entourage, carefully chosen pieces of porcelain, and everywhere, things I have made or things my best friends have made for me. These handmade items lift the soul whether I realize it or not. But the point is, at this very moment, I am immensely aware that it is pointedly important to write about this because it is precisely these colorful hand made artisan pieces that surround me that keep me moving from day to day.

Today, I met with a bride to be. A former Fabric Depot employee. Consequently, low income. I am altering her dress. A $300 - $400 alteration for $100. I asked for $50. I am a high end seamstress. We talked. Her future husband is not well. I had a drum on the wall. It was a spirit drum that I used to play with women interested in drumming and the dance, clearing space, smudging, etc. I recently took it off the wall thinking that it needs a home. I asked Kari if her fiance might be interested in drums and she said he loves drums. I was thinking it might help him with his healing. So I bundled it up with the striker which I had wrapped in silk, showed her how it was held and played and sent her on her way. Although speechless, the emotional air that surrounded her was unspeakably priceless.

It is about giving someone something unexpected that takes their breath away. Not so that you will be remembered by them for the rest of their life. But it is about putting something in their life they would never have thought they would own. And as artists, we can do that. We can knit an exquisit set of scarf, mitten and hat and put them in a bag and just giving it to a woman you meet at the market or the bus stop or the office, for no reason at all. And then just walk away. And when asked why? just say you thought she might like it. Simple. And just walk away. As artists we can bring beautiful things into women's lives that they never imagined they would ever have owned before.

I think that is what I want to do. Oh, I want to earn money too. I am not saying that everything I make will be for the hidden ones. But every once in awhile...........

1 comment:

  1. I didn't post about this because it is so important and profound that I almost feel muzzled. You spell it out so clearly. "Gray world" - how succinct - Pauline, one of your most important virtues is that of your generousity - always present, in place, like water, like air. You have been the champion of subjugate causes for as long as I have known you. You give to another with the ease and natural grace that one sees in the holy. I don't mean to weigh you down or make you uneasy, but you are GOOD. And to be able to count oneself among your circle is a blessing, indeed!