Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Art and Life

Life is a sculpture and we are the artists giving it form.

Sometimes we start from the top down, with an image, a grand design, and we chisel away at a large hunk of stone with this image as our guide, first with a sledge hammer, but eventually with smaller and more complex tools, fleshing out fine details. And when the details start to emerge, we notice differences—sometimes dramatic differences—between the emerging structure and our original design. It’s as if the rock had a grand design of its own. How we respond to this mismatch determines the overall quality of our experience.

Other times we start from the bottom up, without a grand plan, with the empty space we call potential. And we add bits and pieces of clay a little at a time, molding each into what was added before. Eventually, with time and persistence, structure begins to emerge—unique and surprising—from the accretive mass. Sometimes what emerges is not what we would have chosen to create if we had taken a more deliberate path. It can be just as hard to change the result in this case as it would be to replace hewn pieces of stone. How we respond to the irreversibility of our situation determines the overall quality of our experience.

In the end, the quality of life does not depend on our sculpting ability, but on our ability to accept and appreciate what it is that we ultimately create.

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