Do and Support the Work You Love: Reflections on an Interview with a Morocan Artisan
What can an American web designer learn from a Moroccan pottery-maker? To do and support the work you love.
I can’t help but envy the Moroccan artisan whose daily work is his life’s work; history, family, religion, and all. As a web designer, I can’t rely on established tradition to guide me in my work. As a woman, I have no family precedent for the career I should follow. The roots of my family tree cannot be traced back beyond the nubs of my parent’s grandparents. They worked as tavern owners, rail road workers, gas station attendants, and onion farmers. They worked, as many people in the world do, to make ends meet.
Like many Americans, I have no singular cultural identity. I am American, which prompts people to ask follow-up questions about my heritage. My answers are unsatisfactory. My family tree has branches that scatter through Europe and roots that dig into American soil. I cannot say where I am from definitively because, in America, there is always the sense that you are still arriving.
“For 700 years my family has been engaged in pottery-making…I love it. I not only love it, I feel that its in my blood. I love it so much…its difficult for one to image…And I teach it to my children. I don’t love anything as much as I love pottery-making.”
The power of the self-made individual is America’s unique contribution to world culture. Where in some countries you are defined by the work of your father, the grades you got in high-school, or the social caste you are born into. In America you are defined by yourself. It can be lonely work. The gift of being a self-defined individual is that you can always re-write your future. But there is anxiety in facing that blank page.
Perhaps one day America will grow centuries of apprenticeship; education that is tied directly to making a living while learning one’s place in the long train of history; a lesson that can be limiting, but gives a life context. But, in the meantime, I can use my skills to support the artisan. I can help forge a space on the Web where the artisan can connect with the person who most values his or her work. If I have a new year’s resolution this year, it is to do and support the work I love.