Monday, January 29, 2007

Letting Go

On my quest to find out what I really wanted to be when I grew up....which began at of the jobs I held for about a year was selling rugs. These were area rugs. Some were machine made, but most were hand knotted. They were from Tibet, Pakistan, India, China, and other places I do not recall. Some had silk in with the wool giving them a gorgeous luster. I loved taking in the colors and patterns. And I enjoyed trying to find just the right rug for someone's needs.

One of the stories you learn when you sell rugs, is that the weavers intentionally create an error in their rug. Somewhere there is a mistake. The story goes, that the reason for this is that only God is perfect. To try to achieve perfection as a human would be arrogant. To accept your humanity is to accept your imperfection.

I thought of this story recently. I have been going back and re-reading some books that I have mentioned here, or books that I have learned of elsewhere about the creative process. One of the biggest blocks people have is letting go of that need for utter perfection. The work is never good enough to move on and put it out into the world for others to see.

Another thought that occurred to me as I recalled this story is...what about human knees? If everything created by God (or whatever higher power you may choose) is perfect, how do you explain our knees? I say this as someone who sports a very long scar on my left knee. Unfortunately, my knee failed about a year before arthroscopic surgery was introduced. But back to the design of our knees. If our knees were cars...they would have been recalled. There are design flaws in our knees. They are not meant to stand up to what we subject them to. Yet I would be the first to say their is absolute perfection in the human body. One of my favorite things to draw is people. Faces, forms, whatever. Young, old. It does not matter. It captivates all of us.

So how can this be. Can perfection co-exist with flaw. Absolutely. In our work as well. Perfection is when we know that we have reached a point with our work that we can not go any further. We have reached the limit of our skills and talents perhaps. Further work would not add anything to the concept. And further efforts to try and improve it would only cause us to eventually dread even looking at it. We have gone as far as we are able.

I have a pen that I keep. It is the first pen I made that was covered with polymer clay. It has some very lame attempts at canework. And the finishing is horrific. But when I made that pen I was entranced. Thrilled with what I was able to do in my very first attempts at polymer clay. I have come a long way since then. But the pen was perfect for this reason. It opened me up to the possibilities. It started this journey for me. I still have many miles to go. But without that first step I never would have gotten to where I am now. Without letting go of that piece then, and trying to create another, and another, and yet another, I could not create any room for my skills to grow. The pen did what it was supposed to do. It is ugly. But it is perfect. Give yourself room for both.

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