I took a break from writing today to attend an Arts in Education showcase for the PTA. I spent the day watching jugglers, jump-ropers, authors, musicians and clowns vying for a place on various PTA assembly rosters. Exhibitions like this tend to remind me of my trips down to High Point, N.C., back in the 1990s when I was an editor in the home furnishings trade. Fifteen years later, I can tell you that not much has changed: I left each booth with postcards, business cards, catalogs and a handful of trinkets, including glow-in-the-dark and hairy pens, so that by the end of the day, my briefcase was stretched beyond recommendation.
But perhaps what I left with most was inspiration. There’s something about watching people do what they love to do — whether it’s sing, dance or make balloon animals — that is exciting. The act that stands out the most for me was a trio of clog dancers. I wasn’t much interested in the group at first, but as soon as the lead dancer took the stage, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She danced as if no one was watching: hard, full of emotion, grinning from ear to ear, putting everything she had into each step. And at the end of the 15-minute performance, she went over to the microphone and asked the audience, “Did I put a smile on your face?”
It was then that I realized that she had. And so had the balloon guy and the magician and the clowns and ring masters.
Today reinforced what I’ve always known: The importance of doing what you love. I can’t tell you for sure if the money will follow, as they say, but after spending the day with an assortment of happy, friendly, child-geared performers, I’m not sure that really matters.