Today is Easter Friday - Good Friday or Black Friday. All names are valid. Today, I am thinking about sacrifice. Sacrifice of oneself for others, for beliefs, values or for art. This does not have to be a big gesture. Yesterday, I held a gate open for a little old lady and let her pass through first. I even smiled when I did it. I think I surprised her (manners seem to be a dying art, these days); she smiled and thanked me. I felt great. For all I know, she could have been having a terrible day and this could have lifted her spirits. I won't ever know it that was true, but what if it was.
A little while back, there was a talkback radio discussion on depression and suicide awareness. The girl being interviewed explained that she was considering suicide. On the same day, a complete stranger smiled at her and told her that everything will be alright. Simple, seemingly useless but the girl went on to explain how this stopped her committing suicide. Useless gesture? I think not. Major sacrifice? Not really, but that stranger saved a life.
When I grew up, I had basic good manners drummed into me. (I still give my seat to pregnant women or older people. I also open doors for people). Does this make me old fashioned? I hope not. I would like to think this makes me a thoughtful person who is looking out for other members of our community. For it is a community that we live in. We are not hermits. (Though some people could step away from their computers and socialize a little.. just a thought..) I don't consider this a sacrifice. I consider it just being polite.
Then there are others, living in countries where they have to sacrifice their physical freedom or their religious freedom. The rebellious Celt in me screams in rage at this! An individual should have the right to freedom of thought, freedom of belief, physical freedom and the freedom to say so! My local church helps sponsor refugees from war torn parts of Africa where freedom is their sacrifice.
Here I sit, in a comfortable house in Australia where I have the freedom to just be able to say that! I am so blessed. I am even blessed enough to have friends who value my right and freedom to have my beliefs, even if the don't agree with them. Would I sacrifice my freedom? That would be the hardest sacrifice for me, I think.
On a much less serious note, there are others that sacrifice themselves for their art or writing. They sacrifice their time and usually a decent income as well. Realistically, there are not many artists that make a fortune in following their urge to create. Luck, fame, knowing the right person or being at the right place at the right time can lead to it but, as a rule, most artists will never reach those heights. Even some of the most skilled, lauded or respected artists aren't rolling in it. Some don't achieve those heights until after they have died. Fame is probably a good selling point but it does not help the artist much once they are gone. So do I choose to sacrifice a well-paying profession for the full-time life of an artist? So far, I have only managed enough courage for part-time and plan out a 2-5 year plan on viability... but I will always consider myself an artist first.
These days, we have the two-edged sword of the internet. It promises to make artists' and writers' work known to a wider audience (a good thing here in Australia as our population is so small) but it also threatens to cut our hearts out - potentially destroying any chance of making a 'decent living' as it makes it so much easier to steal creative work, flouting copyright and making a quick buck... usually not for the artist. (That is a whole new rant for me at a later stage). This should not be a sacrifice that any artist should have to make.
So again, I sit in my lounge room, typing on my laptop, pontificating. But you don't know the real sacrifices I have made to get here. I don't know the sacrifices you make in reading this. No one can know the life of others', their history, the sacrifices they make to be able to live the lives they want, or the sacrifices they have had to endure to live the life they are right now. The one thing I know for certain is that I am lucky enough to be able to decide what I sacrifice for my beliefs and my art/writing. Others are not as lucky. What I do know, is that I can strive to be respectful and caring to others. Maybe they are not as lucky as me. Maybe if more of us thought of others, the world would be a better place.
So on this Good Friday, remember don't just be good to one another, be excellent to one another!
(recreation of Russian Icon: in acrylics and gold leaf; copyright Karen Carlisle)