The fickle wind’s my foe/With tide his keen ally

Finished Dragonsinger. Still a lovely comfort read. 🙂

Though this one quote did make me take pause to disagree a little:

It was, Menolly thought, one thing to work hard day in and day out to bring in food enough to feed oneself, one’s family and one’s Hold; it was quite another thing, and vastly more satisfying, to provide comfort for other lonely minds and tuneless hearts.

I get the point here, which is that there’s more to life than survival, and that we need other things, too. It’s an important point, that, and one we need to hear–especially when we’re pursuing any sort of art or craft or practice that matters to us, and being told over and over again we really ought to focus on more practical things.

But we can’t pursue that art or craft or practice if we don’t survive first, if we can’t feed ourselves, so dissing the ones who bring in the food made me uneasy. Because providing sustenance is not only hard work, but necessary work, and even deeply satisfying work–as anyone who’s tended a garden or baked a loaf of bread knows.

When I was younger I needed so badly to believe in the notion of the sensitive ones, the artists, as being special and apart–of believing that I was special, and not merely strange. But over time the act of writing and creating characters and maybe just living began to teach me that if you scratch beneath the surface, there’s no such thing as an ordinary person anyway, just different people who are all strange in different ways, most of whom secretly think of themselves as the special and sensitive ones.

So I get Menolly’s feeling of apartness, and her needing to embrace it and her craft, and to move beyond those who told her that it didn’t matter–that nothing but putting food on the table mattered. But I think we can get there without putting ourselves above those who value other things. And if we can’t–then we’re no better than those who told us our work had no value, and what will have been the point?

Besides which, it’s hard to create anything if someone isn’t out there, tending the fields, bringing in the harvest, and turning it into the food that sustains us. We need to honor that work as the caregiving it is, and as work that none of us is really above or beyond, even if we don’t choose it as our work.

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