We were walking on a woodsy trail in Discovery Park, Bigfoot and I. It was overcast and getting ready to rain, as it usually is in Seattle when it is not actually raining. The massive big-leaf maples and alders surrounding us were leafed out for summer, their wide green canopies hiding a gaggle of chirping birds. All the greenness and fresh oxygen, the big, protective trees, even the rain-is-coming low air pressure gave off a feeling of strength and abundance, of peaceful containment and self-sufficiency.
The forest, setting of fairy tales. I have always loved it.
We took an unaccustomed turn on our way back, and off it, Bigfoot spotted what he said had been a trail.
“Let’s go this way,” he said, and headed off. I followed reluctantly.
In fact, it was sort of a narrow path, but you couldn’t really call it a trail.
“Maybe it was a trail, but it isn’t now,” I grumbled. “You know I hate bushwhacking.”
We walked on and soon found ourselves immersed in a giant field of clover.
“I’ve never seen so much clover in one place,” Bigfoot said.
Stretching out for several yards all around us were clover plants of every size and variety, large and small, some deep green, some a lighter green, and others with white inner markings. We were literally “in clover,” and now I could see how the expression came about. Out of the woods, you stumble upon a clearing filled with rich, green shamrocks. Life is easy, after all.
I bent down to examine the different types, and as I always do in a clover patch, searched for the elusive lucky one. I did see something that looked like it might have four leaves, so I reached down to part it from the thicket of surrounding plants. Usually the magical apparent four-leaf clover disappears when you do this, its fourth leaf turning out to belong to a neighbor.
But this time–I couldn’t believe it—the fourth leaf didn’t go away. I reached down farther and plucked its stem.
It was! A real four-leaf clover!
“Look!” I cried, holding up my prize to Bigfoot. “I hope it brings me luck! Do you think it means anything?”
“Think about what you were doing when you found it,” Bigfoot said.
I was walking. So what?
“You weren’t just walking, you were forging your own path. Think about what we were talking about.”
We had been talking about an email I had just sent to someone complaining about an attractive job I interviewed for, but am unlikely to get. And the recipient of my long-winded, self-pitying email had replied with the same words that Bigfoot has repeated to me many times: It doesn’t matter. You’re better off on your own. Don’t get a job, keep freelancing. You have valuable skills. You can do it!
But I’m not so sure. The security of a job appeals to me the same way a clearly-marked trail does. It’s no guaranty that something won’t go wrong. But it beats bushwhacking.
“I wasn’t forging my own path, I was forced onto it,” I say in answer to Bigfoot. Which is the case with freelancing too. Without a job, I am forced to try it. Though without Bigfoot’s encouragement, I probably would have left this bushwhacking path for a job–any job–by now. I’d probably be working at Starbucks. Instead, I’m giving this dark path full of unknown perils a chance.
Still, I hope the four-leaf clover brings me a job. At least, I think I do.
But instead, it strangely seems to be pointing me toward a freelance career.
The logo I chose recently for my new freelance business website is a shamrock. Shamrock is simply the Irish word for a regular three-leaf clover.
In designing the website’s logo, I looked at symbols, I looked at initials, I looked at abstract designs, and nothing appealed. I couldn’t even think of an image I wanted, until the shamrock popped into my head. It just seemed right, somehow. I thought about using a four-leaf clover instead, but it seemed like cheating. It seemed to imply I was lucky, or worse, that I thought I was special.
I downloaded some stylized shamrock images, but they didn’t look right. So I plucked a real clover, which I also found in Discovery Park, brought it home, and had Bigfoot take a picture of it and design a logo. AND HERE IT IS.
But now I’ve found a four-leaf clover.
My clover is being pressed in the fold of a tissue inside a heavy cookbook with an even heavier atlas on top of it. After it’s fully dried, I’ll probably put it in some sort of enclosure and keep it on my desk.
As for my website, I’m not sure if I should replace the shamrock with the new four-leaf or not. The idea seems less pretentious now that it’s real.
Maybe it would bring me luck.
Maybe I should stop thinking about luck and get busy writing.
What do you think? I’m open to suggestions.
That’s the way of the freelancer.Google+