Neurotic much? Gratifying moments with commissions

A colleague/friend asked me to design a necklace for his wife for Mother's Day. "I've wanted to buy her one of your pieces for a while now. This is a perfect time," he told me. They have twins. Little, bitty ones. And he left the designs to me, along with the interpretation of how being a mother of twins might be symbolized in a necklace.

Oh how I sweat over such. Not at first mind you. "Oh, what a great idea!" I declared, with complete and genuine conviction. How honored I am to be a part of such a request. To be chosen as the person who might create a little manifestation of a mere idea. To determine what will symbolize the customer's vision.


The honor doesn't wane, but the inner, neurotic pressure mounts, nonetheless. First I think "Oh I have tons of time!" I mean, Mother's Day is so far away.Then three weeks pass and he says to me, running into me in line when I'm buying a cup of coffee, "You didn't forget about my commission, did you?" "No!" I lie. Sort of. I haven't forgotten, exactly. In fact, I've sketched designs out the wazoo. Sitting in the waiting room of the doctor's office, listening to that man rant and moan about how important his time is and how he's been waiting so long, I'm mildly relieved. He's supposed to be before me, by a half hour. (How sad that I know this about him, his name, the time his appointment was scheduled. I was sitting as far away from where he stood, as possible.) Who knows how many of the people waiting alongside us are intending to see our doctor. He annoys me with his pretentious self-righteousness. Squeaky wheel, sure. But what if I were a person like that? Lessons from mirroring the distasteful behaviors of others who surround us. Learning them one little scene at a time. Note to self: "Never do that. It's exceedingly annoying and uncomfortable to those around you who don't have any control over the situation. If you need to leave, leave. But don't take it out on all the others in your space."

So I sit there glad when he's called in, knowing I have more time to sketch. And sketch I do. I have tons of little unlined index cards in my purse, and a mechanical pencil. Which runs out of lead and Thank God there's another one in there. (I have them everywhere.) So I sketch and the ideas are good, I convince myself. He never told me how the necklace is supposed to look. I can do whatever I want.

Then I run into him at work and admit that I've dreamed about the commission. Nothing I'm making looks remotely like what I drew. The drawings were nice. Really nice. But the clay decides. As do the beads, when the time comes to add those. He laughs, sensing my tension, assuring me he's utterly confident in my ability to generate just the right piece. I'm uncomfortable - not because I believe he won't get something good. I know he will...I won't just bring one piece from which he can choose. But because I can't remember what I promised during that first moment of discussion. Did I say "I'll bring you 3-6 pendants you can choose from, then I'll design a necklace around your favorite one." to him? Probably. It's just like something I would say. Which was a lie, if I did. I hate promising what feels like a reasonable plan and then falling down on it. It's inextricably intertwined with my little "A.D.D. gift." Eyes are, without fail, much, much bigger than my plate. The plate that holds my schedule. The one that always seems to have room for one more idea, one more project.

So when I got oddly sick last week after I'd made the pieces from which he could choose (the whole necklaces...didn't give myself the luxury of that other step-by-step plan I like to shoot for) and wasn't able to be at the office for two days, (including the day he needs to have them before he leaves early for a long weekend away,) I called a friend who agreed to pick them up from my home mailbox and take them to him. He emailed his pleasure. And today, when he returned to the office from the long weekend away, I was convinced of the satisfaction. "I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to bring any of them back. She refuses to choose just one."

Score! Bouncing a ball.


That single moment symbolizes my little experience of what musicians feel when they walk onto the stage to greet the cheering crowds. I don't need auditoriums full of people. But a single satisfied customer, a dad who knows he chose very well when he commissioned a one-of-a-kind (or four, depending on how this all turns out!) necklace for mother's day...beat that. Can't do it.

Makes all the sweating and fluttering tummy worth it. Every last second of it.

It's glorious to be creative. Because the tiniest pleasures expand so rapidly in such unexpected ways. It's also fine to know the joy of finding that feeling in something so seemingly insignificant. If you try to find little ways to approach the world as a child does, you'll usually be pleased to find you can.