I used to mosaic – as in cut up tiny pieces of tiles and lay them at random and in patterns to create beautiful (if I do say so myself) ‘works of art’ – pots, mirrors, picture frames, table tops.
I once created a unique (well I saw it on Better Homes and Gardens and had this bright idea it would be a good project) lampshade out of ten thousand million beads (perhaps a slight exaggeration).
It is beautiful too. And it cost me a motza, what with the ten thousand million beads and the ten thousand hours (perhaps a slight exaggeration) of my labour and the patience it must have stolen from me as I seem to have precious little now.
I used to have patience (as evidenced by my creative pursuits) or perhaps I was just practising really, really hard in those days (well years) when infertility robbed me of the hope that I would ever be a mother.
I was prompted to write this post when the lovely Zanni at My Little Sunshine House, mused (and mourned?) how she had stopped painting – it is clear to me she has channelled her creative energies into wonderful words and of course the special creations of her two daughters.
I may not have ‘created’ our two kids, but we did a hell of a lot to manifest them into our lives. And I think I convinced myself that I had lost all patience (for anything) in the very long process of starting a family (14 years from start to finish).
So I read Zanni’s post, then noticed one of my surviving mosaic pots outside on the deck, plant-less. We were planning to do some spring planting of herbs and flowers, and I pondered to myself how nice the pot is and how much patience and creativity I used to have.
I poked around in the cupboard and re-discovered the aforementioned lampshade and thought about whether I might find a place for it (we’ve moved on from so much blue). Also high up in the cupboard was an intricate mosaic-framed mirror and original print (painted by my husband’s late Aunt for our wedding and framed by me in blue mosaics).
I felt compelled to find places for these beautiful things after 9 years stuck in storage (shame on me).
I don’t know whether I’ll go back to doing mosaics – it’s very time consuming and time with kids feels more precious.
I remember being so much more generous with my time with friends – for one friend, who I’m no longer so close to (no reason, just the passage of time), I created a beautiful mosaic table top made of tiles and river pebbles – it was a masterpiece until hubby tilted it on its side to get it into the car and most of my creation simply slid off the top!! Hours of work lay in broken pieces on the driveway!!! I cursed and learned the hard way that timber needs a special coating for the tile glue to adhere properly to. And I tested my patience (BIG TIME) once again.
The thing is, when we are doing something we love, with love for people who are precious to us, the patience flows freely with the creativity
I’ve transferred my time and patience to writing and particularly doing video editing, which can be very time-consuming, but I love seeing the kids’ faces light up when they see themselves on screen with their family and friends, along with superimposed Disney characters and superstars, thanks to the magic of Photoshop. (check out some of my meditation and other videos on you-tube).
I’ve transferred my time and patience to making yum cha dumplings – mixing different fillings creatively and making each on by hand, slowly, the only way it can be done. And I savour the enjoyment of family and friends for my food specialty (just tried pan-fried duck dumplings- yum).
Perhaps there is only so much patience to go around (and I could definitely yell less). But patience is practised (and ‘perfected’) in creativity – in finding our flow.
Best selling author Malcom Gladwell popularized the idea that 10,000 hours of appropriately guided practice was “the magic number of greatness,” regardless of a person’s natural aptitude. With enough practice, he claimed in his book Outliers, anyone could achieve a level of proficiency that would rival that of a professional.
However a recent Times article highlighted research questioning such a strong correlation between practice and perfect, finding it was much less down to persistence than Gladwell theorised.
While I’m sure the debate will continue, (and I’m not about to test it with much more mosaicking) I reckon it comes back to a balance of creativity (to try, to experiment, to fail) and patience (to practice, to allow, to deal with failure) and if you throw in doing it simply for the love of it (and other people – ie purpose) then maybe we can all become masters at whatever it is we are ‘meant to do’.
And when we are ‘meant to do’ something – does it really matter whether we ever ‘master it’?
Patti Digh, in her brilliant book, Life is a Verb (37 days to wake up, be mindful and live intentionally) speaks of the Japanese art of hikaru dorodango (basically polishing mud balls – but not really basic at all).
Digh ponders how something beautiful can be made out of dirt and how this is a metaphor for our lives – we don’t need all the talent or all the luck to create beautiful lives – we just need to polish ourselves, as we are.
With this in mind I might stick at this blogging thing a bit longer – celebrating my 1st anniversary on the blog this week. And please, besides passion, patience and practice, praise goes a long way to helping us persist.
I love any praise that comes my way (in comments below!!) – oh and share the love too pleeease (links below).
If you think what I write resonates, amuses?, even inspires, then I’d love to reach some more readers in my second year.
Thanks for all your support and stay tuned for a new anniversary give-away (not a mosaic piece, although maybe?). Make sure you subscribe to my e-newsletter if you haven’t already.
Linking up with Jess for IBOT.