Like I mentioned last week, all professions have their own unique set of built-in job hazards … including the creative professions.
Creative professions are potentially just as dangerous as any other occupation. Mostly, creative professions are indoor professions. Even so, there are hazard indoors, too. Creatives learn quickly that there are much scarier things than bears and buses …
“Creative” can mean most anything from writing to painting to pottery to music to movie making to sewing to landscaping to woodworking. "Built-in job hazards” can mean anything from cutting yourself with knives, saws, or needles to breathing in toxic fumes to whatever else is on hand to sicken or even kill you.
I don't know exactly what dangers musicians and songwriters might encounter … maybe tripping over cables when setting up for performances, or having your electric guitar or keyboard short circuit and electrocute you. I've never done any sculpting, but I'm sure hammers and chisels could be pretty deadly in careless hands.
As for me, I just like to sit at my desk and draw all day, which certainly seems benign enough.
Colored pencils aren't terribly dangerous. I suppose you could poke your eye out with one, or stab yourself in the hand. I could see stabbing somebody else quicker than I could see stabbing myself, if I was, say, suddenly attacked by an intruder … aim for vulnerable spots like eyes and ears, because, face it, a colored pencil isn’t exactly a lethal weapon.
I could possibly asphyxiate myself by breathing fumes from the spray fixative I use to seal completed art, but I always take that job outside on the porch or driveway. There’s plenty of ventilation out there, so I can breathe easy on that front ... pun intended.
Recently I discovered “water brushes” and I’ve been experimenting with watercolor washes under the colored pencil. These brushes have a chamber that’s filled with water, keeping the brush wet and eliminating the need for a glass of water to dip/clean/wet the brush. This is great for absentminded creatives like me who have a tendency to dip the brush in their iced tea and drink the brush water! While that is not a pleasant experience, I’m not so sure that it would actually kill you … I suppose it could depending on how much you actually drank and how much paint was in there! (No eye-rolling, please … we all know you’re not a real watercolorist until you’ve done that at least once! Then you learn … cans, jars and cups for brush water. Drinking glasses for drinks only, and, preferably on the other side of the table!)
So, it seemed to me that I had all my bases covered … no work place hazards for me! I’ve got everything under control! I can breathe; I’m not consuming any toxic substances; any iced tea, water or soda is sitting safely at a location to prevent spills and accidents. Life and work is a breeze … until …
… until late one afternoon when I tried to stand up and my left knee apparently has had enough, and refused to let me stand!!! Just another hazard of the job: I sit too much! And now I suppose it's catching up to me! Aaaarrrggghhh!!
Then came the irony of me asking my elderly mom if I could please use her walker. That was hilarious ... even when life stinks, there’s fun to be had! Mom's walker is very simple and sturdy, and great to lean when you're unsteady on your feet. But I couldn't put any weight at all on my lame knee. Being a newbie at being a cripple, I couldn't figure out how to actually walk with it. So we asked some friends if we could borrow their late mom's walker. Then I was in business ... theirs had a seat, and wheels! Hot dog!
After a couple of days of rest and ice packs, I was mobile again, zipping around like I owned the place. That walker was my chair at the dinner table, and a seat when I was drawing. I was a little disappointed when I didn't need it anymore. Life is more fun on wheels. But, the knee is healing up and hopefully it was a good wake-up call that I will heed.
There’s a verse somewhere in Proverbs that says something to the effect of: The fool sees the danger up ahead and does nothing to avoid it. How many times over how many years have I chided myself about all the hours I spend sitting? If you’ve been chiding yourself about some destructive habit you can’t seem to shake, be warned … the day of reckoning WILL arrive eventually.
Still, you can put that day of reckoning off for quite a while if you heed the warning signs. Stay alert and practice good work habits so that you will be able to avoid the traps of the physical dangers you’ll encounter as a creative.
This is so important, because you’ll need to be at the top of your game to be able to recognize and overcome the greatest job hazard of all for a creative … and it’s not physical …