It’s been so long since I have written that I forgot what my address was. My blog site address, not my actual physical address, however I am so bad at numbers that it took me 6 months or more to remember my house number and zip code when I moved here. I can tell you the phone number of the first friend I ever made in school, from 1980, but I still have to pause and think of what my zipcode is now. Anyhow…
I’ve been thinking. That is always a loaded phrase. Ask anyone that knows me. I’ve been thinking usually results in money spent, time wasted and a huge mess. This time, however, I think we can avoid most of those. I’ve been thinking about failure and creativity and sharing ideas and giving advice.
I came across a blog post on etsy recently that has stuck with me and it makes me sort of sad and a little annoyed actually. It was written a number of years ago now, so it is past the point where I could help the writer of the post but I still can’t shake the underlying message.
A woman gave birth to a baby pre-maturely and the baby didn’t survive. As a tribute to her child she planted a very expensive and very elaborate garden. She wanted advice on how to preserve some of the flowers she had grown for this baby. I can understand that on a number of levels. You lost a baby and you don’t want to now lose your tribute to her as well. She was asking if anyone had any advice on how to preserve the flowers in resin. She had emailed various Etsy sellers individually and asked them for advice, offered to pay $500.00 for their advice and sign a form saying she would not share their trade secrets or use them to make money herself. Not one person responded. So she came to the etsy blog/ message board with her story and her request and offered the same thing. People replied and were kind and offered what advice they could and refused any offer of money but unfortunately I didn’t see any real advice that would help with what she was looking for. She is no longer on Etsy and as I said it was a long while ago now or I would get a hold of her and tell her I would preserve the flowers for her.
I am just amazed that no one replied to her. Not even to say no. How could people be that uncaring? (this is where failure comes in) I have made a huge mess of my work area, my non work areas, my clothes, my hands, may hair and most of my supplies in my attempts to learn and perfect the things I do. Glass is difficult and unforgiving. Resin waits for no one. If I am crocheting or sewing I know little tricks to fix mistakes or cover them up. Glass isn’t very cooperative in that regard. Neither is resin. So what, I wonder, is the point of it all – what is the point of trying new things and learning and sacrificing time and supplies and energy if not to share it? Not just to make money or to sell, but to share your failures and say “oh, don’t do this. No good can come from mixing Epoxy in a plastic cup in the Florida heat.” If I already made all the mistakes and suffered all of the injuries why not share them if someone asks?
I have had three or more people email me on etsy and ask how I drill glass. One lady was rather curt actually. But I answered them all and gave them the best advice I could. You know why? Because those women were going to do it with or without me. Me NOT telling them how to do it won’t make them buy from me nor will it stop them from attempting it (I hope at least! Don’t give up!) but it will make all my attempts and failures a lot less meaningful. The lady that was curt with her request was much more open and friendly when I answered. She had been brushed off by other people so many times she didn’t expect a reply. When she got one she was stunned. She was an art teacher and she was making wind chimes with her kids. How could anyone refuse to help an educator educate? I was honored.
God gives us all gifts and he doesn’t intend for us to hoard them. He gives us failures too and they are also ours to share because then they stop being failures and become lessons.