ONE of Mira Keras‘ jobs is editorial assistant at Improvised Life where she collaborates on ideas, helps further projects, brings new perspectives AND writes very compelling content (Check it out here.) ANOTHER of her jobs is tattoo artist and proprietor of The Opal Room, a thriving tattoo space launched less than a year ago in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Buzzfeed recently made a video about Mira’s unique approach to tattooing for their series Hey Stranger.
Although there is a many-decades difference in our age, Mira and I often find ourselves navigating similar realities. The biggest, perhaps, is that both her generation and mine found ourselves in a roiling economic sea change. Twenty-somethings often cannot find paying jobs in their fields of choice — Mira says she is constantly being offered unpaid internships — or are asked to work for barely enough money to survive. For sixty-somethings, work they excelled in for decades became obsolete OR they found themselves viewed as obsolete due to a seriously ageist society; they too are often asked to work (if at all) for too little pay to survive. Both Millennials and Boomers often have to figure out how to make a living in a world where the rules seemed to have changed overnight, and to navigate an uncharted path. Mira and I talk a lot about it, identifying qualities friends and colleagues — and we ourselves — have employed.
Whatever your age, navigating right-livelihood requires:
—extraordinary spirit, courage and resourcefulness
—vigilant daily antidoting of fear and self-judgment
—the willingness to try different kinds of work than they thought they would work
—the willingness to work at more than one job to make ends meet
—often, the invention of new paths (some of these not planned, but resulting from incremental actions that suddenly reveal the way forward)
Mira is a fine example. When she came to Improvised Life two years ago, she was working for no pay as an apprentice to a Brooklyn tattoo artist an hour’s travel from her home. Her practice was to comb Craigslist and respond to any ads that seemed interesting, at Improvised Life, at a florist, as well as the tattoo artist apprentice gig. She sent MANY letters and got answers to only a few. So she said YES back (what did she have to lose?).
She says YES to a lot and saying YES has led her down paths she didn’t expect, including writing about big subjects like identity and personal challenges for Improvised Life: Freedom Means Letting Go of Shame… What You Can Do When You are Too Challenged to Do Anything…How To Fix Your Computer (Love Means Helping You Do-It-Yourself)…Tattoos as Self Reclamation.
When I asked Mira which she feels her “real” work is, she said:
All my jobs are exactly the same: I just want people to look good and be okay.