Every month, I spend a few hours on the weekend creating a kid’s page with science, anthropology, nature or history as the main theme. It is a small freelance gig I have done with a dear friend for many years, and the page is syndicated and published by what remaining small newspapers are left in north America. I certainly don’t do it for money, because there isn’t much of that left for content creators in the publishing business. You see, producers are on the bottom of the food chain. Sometimes, the time I spend on this work is many hours more than I am paid for. No matter. Because, I do it for the love of the topic, my love of drawing, my love of teaching, and for the idealistic hope that a child somewhere will be inspired to care about animals, plants, other people, and places beyond their own after reading what I wrote or seeing the artwork I have made.
Every year at this time, I get a hand written note from my friend, with my tax forms, and a small book, box of tea, chocolate bar, card or picture she has painted for me — to say thank you for sticking with her, believing in the project and carrying on despite the very small financial reward for doing so.
Thank you for your hard work. It is amazing how 6 words can hold so much power.
In my regular job this week, I spent many, many hours contacting brilliantly talented artists to request images for a special project I am contributing work toward for the 65th Anniversary Issue of Lapidary Journal. I have had long phone conversations and email exchanges with the most talented artists creating modern studio jewelry today. The most gratifying thing that has come from these exchanges is the number of times those artists have thanked me for my hard work. They have thanked me for being serious, respectful to the craft, and genuinely interested in the good of the work. They have thanked me for defending excellence, and doing my best to push for excellence over mediocrity. Many have told me that they knew that something had changed for the better in my publication starting around the time that I took my job there. Many times this week, I cried from the gratitude I felt after hanging up the phone.
Having that kind of exchange with a talented person you respect and admire is like food to a starving person. It goes a long way toward repairing the terrible, terrible accumulation of damage that can be dealt by working for huge corporate machines or their minions. It can heal the betrayals, snake bites and greedy carelessness that can be inflicted by egoists, hustlers, climbers and liars over the course of a career… And, it means the world to me.
So, now it is my turn. Because of those six words, I have an abundance of power today. I don’t have space here to thank everyone, but you know who you are. Thank you for caring about me and what I do. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me this week and last. And, here are a few specific thank you messages I must document here and now for everyone to see. Because what was given to me this week through your words or the beauty of your work has sustained me.
Michael Boyd, thank you for your hard work. Thank you for the art school discussions we have had at all hours of the day and night. Thank you for the scrabble games. Thank you for the coffee. Thank you for my birthday party, and thank you for teaching me how to cut rock. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for freely giving me what you have without a care for what you might get out of it. Thank you for being my brother.
Harold O’Connor, thank you for your hard work. Thanks for your dedicated and driven effort to create a huge, important and beautiful body of work. Thank you for teaching me about the solitary path of focused dedication.
Michael Good, thank you for your hard work. Thank you for changing the way I think about the world, life and the universe. Thank you for giving me the love of the hammer. Thank you for reminding me not to think — more often than how to think.
Linda Kindler Priest, Carolyn Morris Bach, John Iversen and Jim Kelso, thank you for your hard work. Thank you for the quiet beauty you bring to this world. Thank you for showing deep love and respect for nature with your art.
Tom Herman, Michael Zobel, Paula Crevoshay, Judith Kaufman, Judith Kinghorn, Barbara Heinrich and Pat Flynn, thank you for your hard work. Thank you for honoring color, design, metal and stone.
Namu Cho, Valentin Yotkov, Charles Lewton Brain, Mary Lee Hu, John Paul Miller and Tom Munsteiner, thank you for your hard work. Thank you for your dedication and focus on the development of a technique and bringing it to the highest form of beauty humanly possible.
And to everyone else I connected with this week, thank you for your hard work. You bring beauty to this world. It is what we need more than anything. Thank you.