Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Map of My Current World

As Doug said, progress is slow, if progress is the correct word. Perhaps it can be likened to glaciers---if the accumulation of material is greater than the loss, then we may define it as positive movement. I, however, stand back and observe whether the outline of the newly-added cement geographically identifies a different country than before or not. That, to me, is progress.

Working in the 'plastic arts' (plaster, concrete, caulk, chink, anything gooey) are assignments that usually fall upon me. Not because I excel at them by any stretch of the imagination, but I figure it's because I have more tolerance for incremental results. Sometimes I am amazed how much time elapses as I am lost in thought. I know I should be downloading some good podcasts to my Ipod, but I haven't settled in to this task quite yet. I can plod along, unaware of the world around me.

Sometimes I think of this type of work is therapeutic for me. It slows me down, actually relaxes me. It teaches me patience, but not before it has beaten me silly with humility. If I listen and work with the materials and tools, I start to fight less and less with them. It's all so basic, I know, but how many times do I begin a project with "Failure" written all over me? Too often I choose to take the 'quick fix' for something and get the job done. The end result might well turn out better if somebody else did it for me, but the satisfaction won't be the same.

A friend in the States once lamented how the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula, Montana, where he grew up, had changed. And not changed for the better. He talked about how everybody came out there to buy their little piece of paradise, a 20-acre parcel of land, bought a log home kit, hired a company to build it for them, and six days later---Voila!---"Instant Rustic". It's what America is all about. Life in the fast lane. Always on the run.

My life is changing. I don't even stand a chance of being in the fast lane. Maybe I finally get it. But I still don't know what country the latest 'concrete outline' is.

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