My year of shows has officially commenced. Renegade last weekend wasn't a super show for me as far as sales go, but, I'm not disheartened. In fact, I think I learned some really important things. Firstly, I was reminded of how capable I am. I mean, I only had a month to prep for this show, and I did it. I designed new products, stocked up on inventory, set up Quickbooks, packaged and packaged and packaged my goods, and then I packed up the car and drove six hours by myself to a town I'd only been once and took care of business for three days and drove back safe and sound. I'm not saying I did it all by myself--I certainly had lots of divine intervention, and my friends really helped me out when I was feeling stressed and uncertain about being ready on time...but, yeah, I did a pretty good job.
Secondly, since the first day of the show was pretty slow, I had quite a bit of time to soak in the reality of my life right now...my Carnie life.
Now, I don't fly through the air on a swinging trapeze, and I can't balance gracefully on the back of a galloping horse...heck, I can't even do a hand stand. But, I am kind of like a Carnie. I work odd, sometimes lonely hours practicing a skill and refining my God-given talent. I pick a 'show' date and work towards that day with all my might, perfecting my products and getting as prepared as possible. And then, I just pack it up and 'perform' for two or three or however many days. In this three part series, I'd like to give you a little glimpse into the preparation, the performance, and the payoff of Carnie Living.
Google defines 'Preparation' as 'the action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration.'
I really like how the definition is two-fold. First, it acknowledges the active, outward aspect --the part where we are doing things...we're actively honing our skills or practicing our performance for the big event. The second part, though, really gets me going. The second part of the definition acknowledges the internal change that happens to us --that through preparation, we are being prepared or 'made ready' for something. sometime. somewhere.
The tasks of preparing for a show aren't difficult. At first glance, they actually seem pretty straightforward. My prep steps are as follows:
1. Create new designs and products
2. Order products
3. Package products
5. Pack up and travel
SUPER simple, right? It should be, but it's usually not. At least in my experience, the hardest part of show preparation is being brave enough and humble enough to just do the work.
I recently read Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. In it, he names that unseen, but very real, very present force that wants to keep us from becoming our full selves. He calls it Resistance. He explains that Resistance manifests itself in all kinds of ways--fear, laziness, apathy, drama, procrastination, doubt, and the need for recognition, just to name a few. Basically, Resistance is any thought or inclination leads you to believe anything contrary to the Truth of your being. For instance it whispers (or shouts) things like, "You're not good enough" or "No one even reads your blog" or "Your dreams are too big" or, my personal favorite, "None of this even matters. You're just going to be broke and jobless and all of your friends and family are going to be severely disappointed in you because you didn't do what you should have done...you didn't do what was expected of you."
Yeah, Resistance is a big bully. It fills us 'makers' (read: everyone) with all sorts of internal struggles and scruples and if we aren't firm to our core about who we are called to be, then, you bet we have days (or weeks, or years) when Resistance kicks us and stomps on us, and doesn't even pretend to be sorry.
And, that, along with just general life challenges (limited time, limited money, limited energy...we are human, after all) can make it difficult for us to get to work.
But, that's all that Preparation is. It's work.
Work and transformation.
As artists, we take raw elements --paint, paper, water--and transform them into beautiful works of art.
But, probably more importantly, in pursuit of creating, and in the determination and steadfastness of getting to work, we are also transformed. We start as human beings with a goal, a dream...a date on a calendar highlighted and circled and underlined a million times... But, by the time we have our tables and chairs and boxes on boxes on boxes of products packed into our cars, ready to hit the road, we have become champions. No. Warriors. A little dramatic? Sure. But, I think, true. We've battled our fears and made tough decisions and pinched pennies and subsisted on very few hours of sleep for quite some time. It wasn't easy, but we did it. We won.
...and the show hasn't even started yet...