We'd have stayed closer to Jethro's work. We'd have kept the house we had. If we were smart, we'd be city people. At the very least, bedroom community subdivision people, like we were for 13 years. We would never dream of building a recording studio in a barn if we were smart.
If I was smart, I would have gotten an actual job. If I was smart, I'd have worked my way into earning a paycheque that could support our family.
If we were smart, we wouldn't have horses. They are big creatures that eat hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of hay, and need vet care and hoof trims. They need acres of land to graze on and large buildings to house them in bad weather. Owning horses is not a financially wise thing to do. It's kind of dumb, really, from a money standpoint.
If I was smart, I would realize that teaching riding lessons with those horses is not likely to support the kind of property needed to keep the horses on, and I would have not chosen that path. A smart way to handle that would have been to pay someone else for the privilege of riding their horse, and let that person pay for the vet and the land and the feed and tack.
If I was really smart I'd just content myself with a few pretty pictures of horses on my walls, and sigh with envy when other people tell me about their horses, and I'd convince myself that horses are for the lucky few who are very rich and very lucky, but not for me.
If I had any brains at all, I would understand that writing fiction is a terrible way to make a living, and that the odds of even getting to the place that I could think about earning anything from it is so far fetched that there's really no point even trying, and I'd just write a short story here and there and hide the printout under my bed or let it sit in silence in my computer. Or if I was really smart, I'd just realize that I should stop. Find another way to get the words and pictures and voices out of my head. Crush them down.
Stop wanting that feeling of squeezing a story out of my brain. Stop needing to search for the perfect word.
Stop craving the warmth of a horse's velvety smooth neck, stop thinking about the satisfaction of working in partnership with such a free spirited and sensitive and intelligent animal, stop needing to soak in their beauty with my eyes.
If I was smart, I could look out the window of the house I live in and calmly remark on the neighbour's flowerbeds. Be okay with how close the other houses are. Be okay with not being able to see a stretch of horizon with no houses on it.
But I'm not smart. We're not smart.
I mean, if he was smart, he might not stay in a business making a product (recorded music) that most people don't feel the need to pay for (and how does an industry stay functional if it can't profit from what it makes?) If he was smart he'd be a plumber or an electrician or a truck driver.
We're not smart because we've chosen to keep going, despite the ridiculous odds stacked against us. We've chosen to fight our way through and stick with it because he's one of the best and he loves it and it's what he does.
I'm doing what I'm good at. I'm good at teaching people how to ride horses. I love it. I'm getting better at it. But. We're not smart, because owning a horse in this century isn't smart, it's considered a luxury, even if it keeps a person sane and happy and peaceful.
Writing isn't just not smart, it's kinda silly and frivolous. Who needs it, right? Will anybody be willing to pay for words a year from now?
I'm not smart.
I keep writing. I keep booking riding lessons, and feeling like a million bucks when they hand over their $35.
He keeps pushing the record button, tuning flat notes, asking for one more take, glowing from the inside out when he coaxes a brilliant performance out of a musician, when he's satisfied with a mix.
Is it SMART to protect creativity? Is it SMART to be honest to yourself?
If SMART means being safe and secure, doing the thing with the least risk, then no, we're not smart.
We're flaky dreamers who try to magic everything into being okay.
But if SMART means doing what we're good at, doing what we love and what we feel we're meant to do, maybe we're smarter than we realize. Maybe we can choose to get other people who are good at bookkeeping to do that for us, so we can get paid to do our thing. If we're smart we'll realize that living in the city can be just as expensive as living in the country but in different ways. And know that smart people figure out how to manage what they earn and what they spend and what they keep.
If we're smart we'll work at getting smarter and getting help with the stuff we're not good at, and making the best of this.
This is the deal people: We're doing what we do. We've made some dumb choices, a few good ones, and a few that didn't feel like choices at all. We have managed to hold onto each other, our family, and a few shreds of sanity.
These are our choices, whether or not they're right for anybody else.... regardless of what's considered the smart thing to do. This is what we've chosen.