Two things you should know right from the start: One – I have bills, and my art barely pays them. Two – I have a dark, witchy heart willing to serve just me.
Keep these two details in mind as I continue. I almost always need the money I earn, and true to my nature, I am going to spend most of my money on me.
None of that negates the fact that I have found my artistic skill to be a wonderful source of free service to others. It even seems on some level to come back around, this willingness to give, and with that, my heart of granite has, occasionally, admittedly, softened.
I realize a potential to please; then I roll my eyes; then I do it anyway, and I end up being glad.
This isn’t some moral stance. This is not about being good. I don’t even always admire good, and I don’t believe in an actual real heaven in the sky. Sometimes bad is just fine with me. I don’t like the idea that people are of service in order to claim the status of being good. I don’t generally admire a martyr, and grandstanding can be gross.
Yet, when my goddess-given talents allow me to help out in some small, manageable way, I cannot help but feel a tiny bump in self-esteem, a ripple of purpose, and a splash of ooohhhhh, that was sort of nice.
Let me illustrate.
First, as a writer, I am capable of writing well enough to crank out an acceptable letter of recommendation. I have written hundreds of college recommendation letters for students of course. But the truly satisfying letters are for dear old friends in addiction recovery, those who need the courts to confirm their rehabilitation. I have written letters for professionals who had once lost their licenses, and probationary felons who have not been able to vote for decades, even though these people had been sober and respectable for aeons.
Writing eulogies for those in grief has proven deeply fulfilling. I have had numerous people approach me afterward, saying, “Gosh, I hope you do my eulogy some day.” What a crazy way to network!
No one pays me for these things. But when they ask, I know I will say yes. I know that I will be able to serve them well. I know the power of my words will generate compassion and reverence because that is my gift.
Additionally, when fundraisers and launch parties need give-away prizes, or silent auction art, I paint something for nothing. I create and contribute a piece with as much universal appeal as I can muster, and I absorb the cost of materials and time.
Here. Take it. If it’s not good enough, well, at least I tried. Gifting my art does require a bit of confidence.
The humility required to serve others in such a way as to influence their lives, and I suppose even some deaths…is…well…an honor and a privilege. To use my skills to be of service is not my first instinct, but in the end, it brings something beautiful to the world.
Sometimes I like to gift a piece to someone most when they least expect it. Giving is more fun when no one sees it coming.
I could easily justify a cloistered life of self-servitude; nonetheless, I also know what it is like to just need a little help. It turns out, being selfless is sort of cool. I mean, it’s alright, you know?