Taking A Step

Annie Dillard’s autobiography, “An American Childhood” shows her growth as an independent and creative person in Pittsburgh in the 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s. She was raised to think for herself and to step forward into life. Watching this happen, I began to see why she characterized the childhood she had as an American one. It wasn’t just where, but how she grew up.  This rang a bell in my memory. I had read about Douglas MacArthur’s explanation of why an army that rises from a democracy would always finally defeat a totalitarian one. He said that the soldiers did not first ask what their superiors wanted. Rather, they were taught to work out solutions to problems on their own and act on them.

A craftsperson of today is uniquely challenged to make things happen in her or his chosen medium as well as in the surrounding culture. We might want success to be laid out with signposts on the way as well as an overall easy path. Most of us do not find this, but what we do find is the joy of finding and taking a step toward growth as a person. We start with a gift or a strength, and then face the challenge of finding a way to survive on it.  Can we exchange what we can do well for the financial and emotional support it will take to keep going?  Can we take a step?