For bedtime reading last night I picked up a Chesterton book, The Club of Queer Trades. Reminds me of the better-known The Man Who Was Thursday – but this one is less nightmare, more sweet dream. It’s a series of linked short stories. Each one is connected to a member of the club that gives the book its title. To qualify, he must have wholly invented a new way of making a living. For example, there’s the – no, I won’t give it away. You’ll have to read it for yourself. I particularly like “The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown” and “The Awful Reason of the Vicar's Visit.”
I suppose the premise marks the book as early modern; surprising industries are invented all the time these days, aren’t they? But then, as the narrator says, “The discovery of this strange society was a curiously refreshing thing; to realize that there were ten new trades in the world was like looking at the first ship or the first plough. It made a man feel what he should feel, that he was still in the childhood of the world.”
At Easter dinner earlier in the day my friend B. told a story about his brother, a family therapist who also has a passion for candles. This man has strong ideas about what kind of candles are appropriate for various situations and seasons and dispenses his advice like a sommelier dictating wine pairings. “Does he do aroma therapy?” I naturally inquired. No, but B., an English teacher, thinks his brother should open a business that is a candle shop in front, counseling practice in back. It would be called, of course, “Scents and Sensibility”!
I suppose all of us look for vocations and avocations that combine our interests in satisfying ways. My mother – retired from software testing – now puts a lot of her energy into weaving. It provides a nice combination of math, craft, and problem solving. My sister has lately been melding her interests in natural science and fine art with some interesting drawings on paleontological themes (like this one). Me, I’m not so artsy, but am glad to find teaching and writing go so well together that I may never have to choose between the two.
What about you? If you were to creatively combine two of your passions, what would they be? Could you make a living at it? Or, where do you see striking combinations in the people around you?