Homework and Worry about the Future 

I slept in this morning until about 11:00 a.m. or so, and sufficiently rested, I eventually went to the school's design lab to work on homework. I hate driving the hour it takes me to get there, but really, I had no choice. While I do have the software I need to make my little designs, I don't have the nice selection of typefaces that the school does, nor do I have the hundreds of dollars to buy the decent and legal typefaces that is required for professional work. Of course, I wish I did. Money sure is nice. It's still green, right?

I came back home, and while I had every intention of working on my projects more, I just couldn't find the energy. In fact, I was surprised that I got as much work done this afternoon as I did. The calculations just underneath the surface of consciousness were telling me that I could get the rest of my work done tomorrow with no problems. Tomorrow might tell a different story.

Still, especially with the economy the way it is, I remain uncertain about my ability to do a design job with the skills I am learning. Yeah, I get decent grades, but so do the hundreds of other students that have also been processed through the program I am taking, not to mention the thousands through all of the design programs in the state. College do a great job of exploiting hope.

Young people have a knack for envisioning themselves as masters of the universe. Not being a young person anymore, and now more intimately acquainted with failure, I am beginning to see the compromises that life forces people to make as they strive after the model of living provided by the larger culture.

I started to see this during my undergraduate days as an English major. Nearly every student in that program wanted to become a famous writer, but they rarely spoke about it. Instead, they talked about jobs teaching or becoming librarians. And when you think about the amount of English majors who are currently in or have ever been to college, and you compare that to the amount of English majors who become and stay teachers or librarians, you can get easily depressed. Less than 1%? Less than .5%? So, what becomes of those students who envision themselves as potential famous authors, and just a handful of years later, wind up working as a secretary in some office, or driving a truck at some warehouse job? Do they take up writing as a hobby? And when that fails to take them anywhere signficant, then what? The emotional realities of failure can burrow deep into your soul and burn slowly and painfully.

The same kind of process can happen in any of the so-called "creative" fields. I've traded my English major status for the small promise of becoming a commercial artist, but really it is the same thing. I suppose that it is possible that I could make a career out of design somehow, but knowing how life works, it is much more likely that I could become the operator of a postcard mailing machine, attaching barcodes to thousands of postcards at a time. Or something like it.

In each class I take, I do my very best to absorb the lessons as the instructors give them, but there is one class I am taking that is above the rest. It is my figure drawing class. I enjoy that class very, very much. Even if I got a 'C' in that class, I wouldn't really care that much, especially if I felt that I learned something and pushed myself a little. I can't explain it. Maybe it is the instructor (whom I really admire), or perhaps it is the subject matter itself. Maybe it is the fact that I am creating art for myself rather than trying to meet some commercial need with my design projects. Whatever it is, it makes this term enjoyable. While I'm not the best student in that class (I am one of the better ones, I must say), I am fairly positive that no one can surpass me in enthusiasm for the knowledge it offers. I'd write more, but it is time for bed and I am getting tired.

12 April 2009
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