Once, while at an exhibition at the Barbican of those superb American furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames, I saw that they were admirers of this quote: “You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat.” …from the Bhagavad Gita. I loved it so much I copied it down.
Before and also during lock down (whilst I have been unable to do my volunteering jobs) I have been wracking my brain thinking about what to do. What work should I do? I’m one of those people who just has to work and will never fully ‘retire’. I’m sure I saw an article somewhere where some very intelligent chap was saying how wonderful and freeing it will be when AI (artificial intelligence) can do everything and how that’s coming very soon, and we will not have to work. Yay!…not. This chap had no sense of the value of meaningful, purposeful, work. Arbeit may not macht frei, but it can certainly help you feel good.
I’m semi-retired. My regular paid job takes about maybe 2 days a week (depending on what’s going on)….and twiddling my thumbs or reading just doesn’t sit squarely with me. So I prayed for some guidance. I don’t know how anyone else talks to God but basically I usually have a kind of journalled discussion with Him. I told him that I would like a job doing something useful…maybe creative..using my hands…
Boy, did he give me one. I have been up til very late some days supplying 2 local shops with 3-layered, 100% cotton face coverings made almost entirely from donated fabric off-cuts. And it seems they cannot get enough of them. People are (still can’t believe this) buying stuff WHAT I MADE!!! The receipts from the sales go to a local mental health charity who run the cafe where I work. The idea was for the cafe to sell the masks…but the cafe is only open half day and gets relatively few customers because of social distancing requirements. So, as I was pushing my bike up the hill in the high street, I stopped at a small boutique and asked if they sell face coverings. Ms. M, (the sister of the twenty-something(?) vegetarian owner Ms. T) said they don’t have any, but had ordered some, although they were not sure when they were coming in. I showed her some of mine. That afternoon I had a text ordering 6 in different patterns, which they would try and sell for a small commission. These masks are fiddly and take me over an hour to cut out, assemble, stitch and iron, cos I’m no expert at sewing (tho I’m getting better). I deliver the masks the day after the order and meet owner, Ms.T, properly for the first time…whereupon…it becomes clear that although this is a fashion boutique selling lovely, ethically sourced clothes…..it’s really a front for an entirely different enterprise all together.
Behind the till is a photo of a fox on a sofa. Is that your pet fox? I ask. No says Ms. T, it’s a fox I rescued and nursed back to health after the wild-life sanctuary said they would have to put it down. It seems that Ms. T is a renowned local rescuer of distressed wild-life. She gets called out for distressed or orphaned baby birds, foxes and squirrels in particular. And sometimes the very young ones need feeding every 15 minutes or so….so….they are sometimes kept, during the day, in the storeroom at the back of the shop. This is probably not entirely permitted, but hey, let’s not get too picky here. The rescued animals eventually get driven by Ms. T or couriered up to a sanctuary 5 hours drive away. Thus when I make my mask deliveries I may get shown a stunning teenage Tawny Owl (this is in the middle of London folks), or I get to hold a 2-week old abandoned baby squirrel with her eyes still shut. Did I expect all this when I ‘launched’ my mask business? No. Did I expect to be making and selling around 20 face coverings a week? No. I expected to make maybe a total of 10 and hope to sell them….but when something’s meant to happen, all the doors fly open. Some local shops are willing to donate their off-cuts/end of roll fabrics for free….
So. I’ve got myself a ‘job’…at least temporarily. I don’t get paid for it, but it has a value – mostly to provide me with something satisfying and creative to do whilst our lives are still restricted. I have finally found my life’s purpose….at least until God arranges some other life purpose…..
Your masks are beautiful! I’ve made masks for my husband and me, plus several neighbors and friends. It was a great way to use leftover fabric and brush up on my sewing skills. Mine have elastic bands, though, and I really like the adjustable slides yours have. It sounds like you have found a wonderful way to spend your time and support a great cause!
Hi Janis…thank you for the compliment! …I started doing exactly as you did and other friends/neighbours kept asking me to make masks for them…and finally all the leftover fabric I’ve had for about 20 years started being used up. I’m really glad to have something useful to do and to help bring in a bit of cash for the cafe at the same time…win win. Trust you are coping well with the covid situation in the US…
How wonderful. Your new endeavor.. and the Tawny Owl!
The masks look beautifully made. Love the squirrel print.
Hi there!. Yes… didn’t mean the new endeavour to be quite so successful…people do seem to like them tho. Love all your amazing animal pics. Saw 7 baby squirrels in the shop today!!!
The way things are going I doubt the demand for your masks will slow anytime soon. And after this fiasco? I’m keeping supplies on hand from now on just in case.
Baby squirrels are precious… as long as they’re not the destructive little red devils I’m currently dealing with.
The baby squirrels are grey…a non-native invasive species from…America… and they certainly can be a pest…but mostly they dig up our bulbs and steal the bird food. We treasure the native red ones over here …they have been beaten into small corners of the UK by the greys….
That’s odd, because over here the greys are harmless and the red will chew right into your house, through your walls, severing all your electrical wires in the process. We’ve been battling a family who nested in our corner post, then moved to the eaves, then the attic and finally the barn. They’re awfully hard to get rid of once they pick a spot.
Don’t know enough about them, but since greys are the most common, I’m guessing they must be the ones getting into attics and chewing wires here….?
They don’t here, but maybe it’s a different variety.