in retrospect…by the numbers

The open studio is over and life has returned to its normal peaceful, ordered state. I spent the day recovering from being super hostess and will resume being an artist tomorrow. For right now, I am content reliving the weekend in all its glory.

As I ponder the weekend, I am struck by how much we as a society are stuck on numbers to qualify our happiness and success. How many home runs did someone get in a season, how many people voted in an election, what score did your child get on the test, what is your IQ. The list is endless as to how we measure ourselves. Endless, but limited. For we don’t always measure the stuff that is really important. How many people dropped popcorn while they cheered for those home runs because they were so excited? How many people were affected by the policies put into place by the elected official? How many times was your child polite to other people? And how many times did you smile today? Perhaps those are the questions we should be finding the answers to.

I am not immune to the numbers game. Throughout my career as an artist, I have avidly counted things. Dollars I made at a craft show, new names on my mailing list, visitors to my gallery, lizards sold…it all added up over the years. But quite honestly, I can’t say that any of it was really important. I continued to make stuff, people continued to buy it and I wasn’t any more or less happy after I had figured out the bottom line. Or if I was, it was fleeting because I always thought the numbers should be higher.

And yet I continue to do it. I carefully count the names on the sign in sheet for the open studio trying to figure out how many people came. But as I do so, I wonder exactly what is the magic number? What is the number that means that the weekend was a success? That I can use to tell other people so that they will be impressed? And then I think maybe I need to come up with some different numbers.

So here they are:

Number of people who smiled when they were here: All of them.

Number of people who thanked me for opening up my property to the public: I lost count.

Number of people I thanked for coming out to see my work during the weekend of solid rain: Everyone I talked to. (At least I tried, if I missed anyone, consider yourself thanked).

Number of people who told me my work was amazing/phenomenal/fill in any number of adjectives: I lost count.

Number of kids who rode the rocking llama: over 30.

Number of adults who rode the rocking llama: Probably around 20 but I don’t know for sure, I think there were some who did it when no one was looking.

Number of chocolate chip cookies eaten: 7 dozen.

Number of people reached by my facebook post of the article in the Carroll County Times: 1,770. (This last number is quite ridiculous. It is my first encounter with the power of social media. And it doesn’t count the people who saw the article in the myriad of other places that it was posted or shared. It also reminds me of the still strong power of the press. The newspaper may be a dinosaur, but don’t count it out, especially in the smaller communities.)

Number of kids who stuck their tongues out at the kangaroo: Only one was caught on film, Others may have as well. I will never tell.

Number of tire ruts in our lawn: doesn’t matter.

Number of happy, successful artists living here: One.

Thank you.

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21 thoughts on “in retrospect…by the numbers

  1. I came, I rode the llama, admired you for sharing your studio and your work. Big success!!! Congratulations! But no cookies left : (

        1. After watching my dad with dementia, I’m not even sure you can take that with you. It may be stored in your body somewhere, but the actual memory can fade away.

  2. I missed it due to other commitments but will plan ahead for the next time (hope there’s one in the future). Love your work and was tickled to meet you the other night at the event at Oscar’s. keep on making art!

  3. I think happiness is measured in llama rides!
    Am catching up with blog posts and just love this post, was delighted to read your words again. I hope you have been well!

          1. They really do take up a lot of time (but are so much fun too!). I’m in the middle of Oliver Sacks’ memoir – what a fascinating life he lead. If you haven’t read it, worth picking up.

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