Welcome to my world.
. . . In my world, dissatisfaction is a blessing. Or it's a curse. I'm not mature enough to tell which.
. . . We live two doors down from the Gild Hall, a 150-year-old barn that has been converted into a community center. There's a stage, seating for 250, and a huge fireplace. There's also a library. It has a fireplace, too. Downstairs is the kitchen, dining room, and other rooms. Last Saturday, at the weekly supper, seven volunteers cooked and served a meal for 140 people. Gild Hall is a busy place, run by The Arden Club, Inc.
. . . Recently, in my loosely-defined role as publicist for the Arden Club, I joined George, Liz, Mark, Pete, and Shari to plan four concerts at the Hall. After the meeting, I was inspired to design a poster for the Roni Arbo and Daisy Mayhem concert, to be held May 9. Any concert given on a Wednesday night needs publicity, especially if there's another concert two days later.
. . . If I were more mature, I'd do one thing and do it well. Instead, I write, photograph, design websites and design printed pieces. Taking on so many different tasks isn't a matter of courage or ego mania. Mostly it's that I get bored so easily. So I take on this task and then that. What takes courage is finishing them. Needless to say, lots of things in my life don't reach completion.
. . . The poster for Roni Arbo and Daisy Mayhem reached completion quickly. I woke at 4 a.m. one morning with an idea for how the poster should look and, several hours later, had a piece I still find quite satisfying.
. . . This, unfortunately, gave me courage to produce another poster, this one for the Lenten Adult Education series "Spirituality and Discipline" at nearby St. David's Episcopal Church. I'm one of the speakers. (Did I mention I give lectures? Not often, but it keeps me from getting bored.) I didn't wake up at 4 a.m. with an idea for this poster. I wasn't working by inspiration. Instead, I had been given some text and asked to do something pleasing.
Making something pleasing is easy. It's more a matter of construction than creation. But, for this poster about creativity, I wanted something, well, "creative". I wanted something special, as good as the Daisy Mayhem poster. But everything I did left me dissatisfied.
. . . My wife had to wonder what I was doing. I'd show her a design, she'd give her approval, then I'd go away muttering. An acceptable design was unacceptable. I wanted something stunning.
. . . Dissatisfied, I looked for new ideas. Perhaps a cop dancing with a ballerina, a judge in his gown doing pirouettes, or an angel drawing with precision instruments. Perhaps these ideas could communicate graphically the idea of spirituality and discipline.
. . . If I were an illustrator, perhaps they could. But I'm not. So, after considering these ideas, I went back to my first idea, plain as it was. I had noticed that the words given me for the poster could easily be formed into a cup or chalice. Now the challenge was to make them look like a chalice. But how?
. . .
Hours later I had found several ways to placate my initial dissatisfaction. Eventually, after much trial and error, a design emerged that is more than pleasing even if it isn't stunning.
. . . Is this a defeat or a victory? I'm not mature enough to tell. My dissatisfaction with the initial design was a blessing, in that it pushed me to do better. But is my residual dissatisfaction a blessing, now that I've done as much as I can do? Isn't any further dissatisfaction merely evidence of an unrealistic perfectionism that spoils life's sparkle?
. . . I don't want to go through life a grumbler, someone satisfied with always being dissatisfied. You've met people like that. Nothing's good enough for them. Gripe, gripe, gripe. They expect life to be one disappointment after another and are never disappointed.
. . . You and I know better. Life is at once exhilarating and disappointing, lovely and degrading, promising and discouraging. Our faith isn't an easy one, that all things can be made good. That's my hope for all my dissatisfactions -- immediate and residual. One day I'll see the benefit of my disappointments clearly. One day I'll see my dissatisfactions for the blessings they are. One day all will be redeemed.
. . . In the meantime, I'm keeping my dissatisfactions handy, ready to be of use. If you see me grumbling, it's because I'm dealing with them, neither abandoning my disappointments nor giving in to them, waiting to see how they are to be transformed into blessings.
. . . Now, why can't I find the right way to end this letter? I need something clever and profound -- and I won't stop working on this letter until I have found it!
A blind word-mangling psychologist, specializing in non-verbal assessment of cognitive abilities, writes: "it is prt of lfe's jorney to be in prcss, dnny. you dn't hve to be fnshed to be good. smile. and it is tru tht the jb wll never be fnshed, but tht's true of lots of thngs, lke achevng socl jstic, unversal pece, and a wrld in whch no children starve. it's no excuse to stp wrking tword thse ends but -- jmpng bck over the rbomstck -- tht is the jb of ths world, not the next, in whch those concrns wll not even exist. is tht freeng, or wht.
. . . "jmping over the broomstck is an old negro-ism. dn't knw if it orignated in afrca or in the crribean, but when they were dened accss to the nrmal legla prcesses of the time, they married by jumpng over a broomstck -- and divorced by jumpng over it bckwards. you'll stll see it a lot in islands and in the soth, even at the end of a relgios weddng, when blacks wll jump ovr a broomstck, as jws wll brek the glass, etc. there are sme firly elaborate weddng brooms. smeone tld me it is also a scottsh tradton, but if it is, it evaded the celts on my fmily tree. smile."
A travel-worn geophysicist writes: I have always equated THE Chalice with a crucible because of the transformation. By using a crucible [chalice] for your poster you are suggesting the need for throwing into a vessel the random experiences that we all have but, because of creativity, some can transform those experiences into works of art or things of beauty.
Click here for details about concerts at Gild Hall.
Five concerts are scheduled over the next six months.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2001.
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