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Is it worthwhile?

Returning from my yearly trip to Zambia and contemplating this question.

sunset in Zambia
Sunset view from the water tower at New Day Orphanage in Zambia

To be honest, I can't quite remember if "worthwhile" was the exact word this person used when asking me his question, but it was at least a synonym.

 

We had a great trip to Zambia the last week of April through the first week of May with Team Prosthetic Promises In His Name seeing 89 patients in two weeks for prosthetic, orthotic and ocular prosthetic services. This was my 11th trip, and the past few years have definitely felt different now that I am pursuing art and not working in orthotics and prosthetics here in the U.S.


One patient asked me what hospital I work at in the U.S., which led to a conversation about me being an artist and no longer practicing O&P as a career. I could only imagine what he was thinking as I explained. And here's where the question came--"Is it worthwhile?", he asked as he rubbed his fingers together in the universal sign of 'money'. "Not really in that way", I answered, "but it's meaningful to my soul".


That's really the answer that popped out of my mouth! Did he think I'm crazy...out of touch...a privileged American? In addition to the cultural differences, I think about how many of the patients we see are living in homes without running water, are growing their own food and are currently facing the effects of a drought with a poor crop yield. I feel this culture tension every time I return from Zambia. We don't spend enough time there for it to be a culture shock, but the many differences in the way of life and cultural values makes me re-evaluate and contemplate each time. And my continual low-lying sense of guilt for pursuing art was amplified by this conversation.


working on prosthesis
Repairing a prosthesis at the PPIHN clinic in Zambia

There's no right way of doing life. I have to remind myself of that fairly often. There doesn't even have to be a through line with the things we do in life. I say that and think that, but oh how I struggle internalizing that. I've heard many people who pursue a passion express how they can't not do that thing---whatever it is they are passionate about. Art, cooking, music, a field of study, teaching, working with children...the list goes on. We are all unique with varied interests, and that is part of what makes the world so beautiful.


I can't not paint. I completely understand that feeling that people express. I can even realize when I need to have time to paint or draw, where I feel "off" if I haven't been able to spend some hours absorbed in a painting. Is it worthwhile? Depends on how you evaluate it. Will I ever be selling a lot of artworks, or be a famous artist, or make a lot of money from my art? Nope. But art is meaningful to my soul, so I'll keep doing it. And I'll keep going to Zambia, because that is meaningful. And will keep looking for other meaningful things to do as well.


There's a fantastic meme my husband showed me, which we've kind of made as a mantra for ourselves. We seem to be approaching life more and more in this way. "Anyway, I'm going to follow this goose for a while and see where I end up." (I probably can't post the meme here for copyright reasons but see it on Reddit here.)


Winding my way through life trying to pursue meaning. We'll see where I end up.


pencil portrait sketch
I did get in a little drawing time while on the trip and hope to do a portrait painting of this woman I met.

 





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Remembering conversations with you when you talked of your dreams of owning an art gallery, painting when and what you wanted, enjoying the freedom of expression in mediums not yet realized. Wow! Look at you! Katie, God's given you talents beyond anything you could have imagined back then. Don't analyze or search for why, or if what you're doing is "worthwhile" or understood by others. Follow the goose and know that wherever/whatever you're doing it's because God's walking with you down that path and blessing you and that path the whole way. What a thrill it is to hear your accomplishments and what a blessing to have you share it with us! Luv ya!

Louise

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Thank you SO much for this message of encouragement!

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Guest
May 15

At 75 I now realize I have followeda flock of geese in this lifetime...thanks for the insight and the chuckle 😃

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You have so much talent and you’ve worked so hard to master your skills. It would be a waste to turn your back on such an opportunity. Don’t feel guilty that you have this choice - instead, work to bring underprivileged artists the same choice. You deserve to make a living doing what you love as anyone else.


Artists make art in the most dire of circumstances. Very little can suppress it. Murals appear on walls of destroyed buildings, in the sand when there are no supplies, a song or story when hands are too busy. Art has existed for almost as long as humans. It is a part of what makes us human. I see your art every day…

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Thank you so much for this encouragement! ❤️

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Guest
May 15

Love reading your blogs! And following you follow your passions. It gives me a sense of purpose to follow my passions, so worthwhile!

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Guest
May 15

Always good to hear from you, Katie.

I like that word~Meaningful

"Meaningful to my Soul" is an added bonus in our lives! Keep up the great work in all you do!

Kathy D.

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