Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Waste

The following is a passage from the novel The Wanderer by Sharon Creech. She writes some of the most profound children's literature on the market, in my opinion. I am sharing this because I see so much of myself in Creech's young character, Sophie.  Dear Sophie, I hope I don't do that either. 
Uncle Mo sat on the aft deck, sketching. I like his drawings. He showed me how the seals that are farther away should appear smaller in the drawing than the ones closer up. I tried to draw them, too, but my drawing wasn't as good as Uncle Mo's.

"Are you an artist?" I asked him.

"Me?" he said. "No."

"But you look like an artist to me," I said. "You draw really good stuff."

"Nah," he said. "This isn't so hot. I'm pretty rusty."

I asked him what his job was, what he did for a living. He frowned. "I'm a number-cruncher. I sit at a computer all day and mess around with numbers."

"But did you want to be an artist?" I asked. "Before you were a number-cruncher?"

"Sure," he said.

"So why didn't you?"

"Why didn't I what?" Mo said. He was putting whiskers on the seals in his drawing.

"Be an artist. Why didn't you become an artist instead of a number-cruncher?"

He used his finger to smudge the water line in his drawing, making it look soft and fuzzy and more like water. I thought maybe he hadn't heard me, but finally he said, "I dunno. Why does anybody become anything?"

"Isn't it because you want to?" I asked. "Don't you become what you want to become?"

He looked at me. His mouth was partly open and it seemed like there were words in there but they couldn't come out. He closed his mouth and tried again. "Not usually, Sophie. That's not the way it usually works."

"But why not? Why wouldn't a person do what he was good at and what he wanted to do?"

Now Uncle Mo was drawing ripples around the seals. "Because sometimes, Sophie, a person just needs a job. And sometimes the job he can get is not the one he most wants."

"Well, I hope that I don't do that," I said. "I hope I don't get a job I don't want. It seems like such a waste."

"Ah," Uncle Mo said, putting away his drawing. "Youth."

--Sharon Creech, The Wanderer, pages 114-116