Lesson 4: Live Like An Artisan

I have always had a love for art and for the people that can create experiences, images, or ideas that evoke passion, inspiration, or just simple introspective thought. As a teenager I used to stare at Monet’s paintings in a book, wondering how one man can place simple dabs of color on a plain cotton canvas in a way that still speaks to so many people. Today I often put on a piece of handmade jewelry and feel lightened knowing that the person that made it saw something beautiful in the most basic of materials that existed before the piece was formed.

As I travel, I find that I seek out artists and artisans almost subconsciously. I am drawn to them in a way that even I cannot define. After traveling through almost 40 countries, I have come to see them a microcosm of the best parts of each society. So much hope can be wrapped up in one smiling face of a teenager who couldn’t finish school but learned to work with silver as a way to feed himself. So much culture and tradition can be carried in one carpet knot, one throw of a shuttle across a warp, or one stroke of paintbrush on fabric.

Artisans, to me, encompass all of the best things about work. They work because they need to support themselves but also because they love what they do; because they can simultaneously see their past and their future in what they create. Few other workers are as proud, as driven, or as dignified as an artisan. Few other people are as open and quick to share what they know with others.

With my year on the road coming to an end, one on the many lessons that I hope to carry with me is to live less like an employee and more like an artisan. I too want to be generous with my wisdom, innovative in my thinking, scrupulous with my time, and so dedicated to my craft that others will be inspired to take up their own. Whatever comes next, I too want to live like an artisan.

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