When people are really excited about what they do — when they truly love it — I love listening to them talk about it. Their eyes light up, they speak a little bit faster, often they catch themselves and laugh when they know they’ve gone too far. But they can’t help themselves. It makes me feel good to be around those people.
For instance, I look forward to any new documentary by Ken Burns just so I can listen to the interviews when he’s promoting it. He’s intelligent and engaging and, better than anyone I can think of, he speaks in flawless paragraphs. It’s quite amazing. I also remember happily sitting through an entire one-hour episode of Charlie Rose when his guest was talking about String Theory. String Theory! I didn’t understand a word, and I don’t remember his name. But I remember how fun it was to listen to him because he was so caught up in the joy of his subject.
One of things I like best about being a contributor to Albany Patch is that I get to seek out creative people who are doing some of the most fascinating things. They are usually unassuming, surprised I’m interested, just doing good work quietly. Some of them earn money at it, some don’t. But I think they all would say they do it because it makes their lives richer.
Take Moriah VanVleet, who makes beaded jewelry after working her day job because she believes that a beautiful piece of jewelry helps to celebrate life. “Jewelry decorates people.” She also turns to baking as a way to make personal and delicious gifts from her heart.
Or Carla Tenret, who tells the story of a childhood in Indonesia interrupted by the hardships of WWII. Schools were closed at that critical time in her education when she would have learned, among other things, proper hand-writing. She spent years embarrassed by her illegible scrawls, until as an adult she met someone who introduced her to calligraphy and her life was changed ever after. I could sit for a long time listening to Carla rhapsodize about alphabets and book arts and “making words beautiful.” Someday I’m going to take her class.
And then I hung out with Tom Weimer and Mitchell Linden, who, along with a couple of other Albany dads, get together once a week to play jazz in a basement. They play gigs in the area too, and often donate their time for school fundraisers. They take every opportunity they can to play together because they love it.
Most likely these people will never be interviewed on NPR. But they make art and I got to spend time with them talking about it. I’m impressed and inspired and encouraged that there is this level of creativity all around me. It is so much fun to bring these folks into the spotlight on Albany Patch.