A day-by-day photo essay of my New Year’s Paperwhite growing from bud to bloom. And some thoughts on the book whose title influenced the post about the Paperwhite, that roused the requisite New Year’s reflections, which I have written up here on the chance that they may impassion you, too. (Say it ten times fast.)
“As I walk’d through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place, where was a Denn; And I laid me down in that place to sleep: And as I slept I dreamed a Dream…When at first I took my Pen in hand, Thus for to write; I did not understand that I at all should make a little Book in such a mode; Nay, I had undertook to make another, which when almost done, before I was aware, I this begun…”
-‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ by John Bunyan
When I left New York City six years ago, I came to Santa Fe for a reprieve. I had never intended to become a designer/publicist/business owner when I arrived, or even to stay for so long. In fact, I thought maybe I could leave the frenzy of the city for a siesta in the mountains of the great American West, and a stress-free life of work at a spa where I would get free yoga classes, or to be a peaceful cheese intern on a goat farm (both of which still sound like fabulous fates). But, here we are: “…before I was aware, I this begun…”
It’s almost an out-of-body experience sometimes to witness where life has carried us. And what can happen when we let it. I am thankful for the family and friends who have believed in our ability to tell the tales that need telling, through color and words, and helped this business grow six years strong and counting. I am grateful to our wonderful clients, not only for the work and opportunities, but for being a part of our lives and sharing their aspirations—and allowing us to be a part of their narratives in return. I’ve always loved reading stories, creating stories, drawing stories. My work every day now, visually and linguistically, is to discover and to tell people’s stories. I think that is the biggest part of what has brought me to this job and held me here.
The other and equally special ingredient that keeps me is my always-inspiring design and PR partner, Jackie, who helps our work grow, evolve, and succeed every single day. Not only an amazing artist, writer, and fashionista, this magnificent lady is also a true friend. Who could ask for more of an ideal colleague and dream job than that? (And, hey, maybe we would have never met without that wild idea of spa labor compensated in free yoga classes. This is what I mean about life taking you where it needs to.)
And, as for the completely melodramatic impetus behind the book I quoted—a choice confronting dissenters: conformity and the reward of a quiet yet empty life, or an arduous and never-ending swim against the tide, constantly facing pressure to do the opposite. Those who attempt to earn satisfaction through playing by the rules are doomed, while those who question, seek, and trek are rewarded with richness. (In fact, the thesis is a fairly straightforward attack on morals and social respectability, and can be read as more or less advocating vice and crime. Perhaps we just go a little less crazy and reap ‘dream the impossible dream.’)
This did make me wonder, though, how can a graphic designer go against the flow, to achieve a life of fulfillment? Beware! I plan to use unrestrained amounts of garish fonts, with inordinate and uncontrolled flourishes and serifs. Legibility be damned. And, beware the bold, eye-searing mixes of hues and patterns that will make your heads spin, stripes with plaid with woodgrain with parchment with velveteen, that I shall inflict upon your vision. (A joke.)
But, designer or not, the same as anyone may, I hope to question, seek, and trek—be even more of a traveler, a dreamer, and a do-er like all those cheerily immoral Pilgrims—in practice, in mind, and on paper (well, and on the computer). I have learned a lot about my job by doing things wrong, and then doing them right. Actually, I do kind of like to color outside the lines, literally. Here’s to traveling and to swimming, and the happy feeling of a not-so-peaceful lifestyle. Wishing you all an invigorating and prosperous new year brimming with dissension. “This book will make a traveller of thee.” Grow, little Paperwhite, grow.
Photos by Kristin Carlson. Paperwhite bulb the gift of Jackie and her lovely mom, Ellen.