Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What the Hey?

It was one of those days when everything seems to conspire against you. Roads are closed so you have to take the long way; tools are not where they should be; you have piles of work that keep growing; computers, phones, printers go on strike; incompetence is rampant; nothing seems to get done on time or done well.

Those days are a friggin' hassle.

At least that's what it feels like. And it feels that way because things don't go according to expectations or desires or preferences. Those nasty situations fly out of the realm of personal control.


So, yesterday, you have this custom lamp, of great personal significance, that needs a lamp shade. Nowhere on this earth is there a lampshade that you can buy to fit this lamp. You have to make one. Your wife gives you something that is not a lampshade and says, "This looks like a fun project," to which you want to reply in no uncertain terms to the contrary, but you keep your mouth shut and go ponder the problems.

Yes, you will need tools. The tools are far away on another job. And yes, you will need parts. But you don't know what those parts might be. And finally you will need three or four hands to hold all the parts in place while you finally assemble them.

As you consider the lamp, however, you see its Zen qualities, how it was put together with great care by a fine, generous artist. You try and fail to adopt that same Zen approach and attitude. You try again. You put on reading glasses and a head lamp so you can see the tiny parts that need to be disassembled, threaded, re-assembled,  tightened, torqued, and so on.

It takes longer, much longer, than you thought it would. These kinds of jobs tend to progress at their own rate. 

You see that, yes, this is just a situation, and that with a little reflection on how best to see the creativity, craft, and, I am loathe to admit it, love in the work, you find solving the problem satisfying.

You join the human race in the ongoing project of trying to happy while we figure these messes out. What looks like chaos is just another form of what has been in front of us for millennia. You consider that it might have been frustrating to first use fire, to hammer the corners off the first wheel, to capture the forms of a deer on a cave wall.

You see the fruits of sustained focus, effort, and patience. You forget the hassle that work has become. 

Then, quite suddenly and surprisingly, if you are lucky, there is light.

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