Friday, August 17, 2012

Desire For Greatness

This is not meant to be a self-deprecating post. It is just what I've been honestly been running through in my head. I have been given a blessed life. I KNOW I have. That is not something I take flippantly or without a huge amount of gratitude. I am grateful to my Creator God for the life He personally designed for me & me alone. My life is not without difficulty or frustration but it is one I am greatfull for. I have made some bad choices & I have made some good ones. These, along with an amazing amount of grace & mercy, have produced this life I am in. What I have been pondering for a while now is: am I doing as much with what I've been given as I could? As I should? As I want? As others want? As my Creator desires?
Great, adjective: 1. unusually or comparatively large in size or dimensions 2. large in number 3. unusual or considerable in degree, power, intensity, etc. 4. wonderful; first-rate; very good 5. being such in an extreme or notable degree
I have a desire to be great. In this I am referring to the last two definitions, heck, maybe even #3. (Do we all have this pull? Is this just me?) I've been given a great life & I want to do great things with it. I want to be great. I want to do great things. I want to do great things with the gifts I've been given and the skills (tangible & otherwise) I've developed...Why? To what end? I want to achieve greatness is many aspects of life. Important or superficial, I want to be great. I want to "do" that aspect wonderfully, firt-rate and to an extreme or notable degree. Some are silly & some are more important than others & others still are the most important of all. But it still remains that I want to be great at them: I want to be a great follower of Christ I want to be a great desciple, pray-er, study-er, listener I want to be a great wife, sister, daughter, friend I want to be a great employee I want to be a great dresser, with great style I want to be a great housekeeper I want to be a great steward of this earth, my pets, my posessions I want to be a great church family member I want to be a great pattern maker & seamstress I want to be a great small business owner I want to be a great exercise-er I want to be a great encourager I want to be a great dancer (like I said, some are silly) The list goes on... But again, why? What drives this struggle for greatness in such a wide variety of aspects of my life. Do I want others to think I'm great and what I do &/or accomplish is great? Do I want to think of myself as great for my own self image, self-confidence &/or pride? I look at "great" people and think, I want to do that. Not necessarily their task but their impact. I have stood in awe of what I considered greatness at concerts, speaking events, class rooms, art exhibits, theatre, church services, etc. But with greatness comes responsibly. As cliche as it sounds, it's true. Those "great" people are responsible for what they do with their greatness & how they impact those around them. That's heavy. I don't want that. I just want the good stuff. Not the work. Would I be great at these things if I put in the time to each of them? With as busy as I am, I can be lazy. While I am busy doing, doing, doing, I'm lazy to accomplish the things I desire. I want to look great in "that dress" but I not do the exercise nor the diet to get there. I want to truly HEAR my Savior speak in a great way to me but I'm not willing to be still & listen. Etc. Perhaps my focus must be narrowed. No one can be great in all aspects of their life, no matter how blessed that life may be. Can they? Perhaps I desire too much greatness & should focus on being great in one way. But that seems lazy too. Is this the world's expectations fueling this desire for greatness? I already know the world lies. Or, is this a legitimate conviction that I should do greater things in fewer areas while setting down other areas and stepping away from them.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Artist or Craftsman? An Essay of Sorts

According to (not the photos):

art·ist [ahr-tist], noun
1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.

2. a person who practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor.

3. a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: a commercial artist.

4. a person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance.

5. a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.

crafts·man, [krafts-muhn, krahfts-], noun

1. a person who practices or is highly skilled in a craft; artisan.

2. an artist.
I guess I should have looked up the definitions for these words years ago. They are words I have struggled with for some time. I love the idea of being an artist. I love the idea of being a craftsman. I think "artist" somehow has gotten a romantic connotation in society and is therefore put on a pedestal for all to gaze at with admiration. Meanwhile a craftsman is respected for producing high quality wares in a dark, dusty workshop, but an artist? I think society says, "No." Sad really.

What is even sadder is that while I believe myself to be a good craftsman I frequently long to be an artist. I have wanted it to the point of silent tears several times. Many people (some of whom I consider artists & some not, but all of whom I love) have referred to me as an artist. Sometimes I "correct" them & other times smile & let them believe their "error".

Why do I usually not consider myself an artist if definition #1 clearly states "a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria". I produce work in "the arts...". I should think I am an artist. But I often do not. I guess it is because the work I create is almost never an original idea of my own. Does this make me a non-artist? I guess I would usually answer yes, & to a lot of people's horror, I would also follow that up with "I'm not even creative."

Back to the dictionary:

cre·a·tive, [kree-ey-tiv], adjective
1. having the quality or power of creating.

2. resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.; imaginative: creative writing.

3. originative; productive (usually followed by of ).

cre·ate, [kree-eyt], verb
1. to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.

2. to evolve from one's own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.

3. Theater . to perform (a role) for the first time or in the first production of a play.

originate, invent.

A friend of mine, who's work is similar to mine, shares in this same self-struggle told me once that she considers herself a "creativity facilitator". It is her job (and talent) to take someones original, "creative" thought & make it tangible. Another friend of mine answers back, "Doing that takes creativity and therefore an artist!" Does it? Or does it take a craftsman?

I know the line between artist & craftsman is a blurry one. My husband & I have discussed this blurry line on numerous occasions. Is an artist a craftsman? Is a craftsman an artist. We've come to the conclusion that the answer to both questions is "Not always." Do you have to be one in order to be the other? No. But I guess for the "art" to be of quality, both of those rolls must be filled, not necessarily by the same person. So then, I'm a craftsman. That's cool. I take a person's art & use my skill set & love of the "art" to make it tangible. As a craftsman. After all my workroom is dark AND dusty!

But what about my Lucky Zelda items? Surely I am an artist to create those pieces. No one is telling me what to make & when or how to make it. So I'm the artist there! Am I? Given enough time, I can copy anything. I use patterns or images of vintage items or items that strike my fancy for no particular reason & re-create them with the materials available to me. RE-create. Somehow this takes "artist" out of that equation for me.

Perhaps a way in which I am an artist is in my use of materials. I've got a cash of fabric & trims that I am constantly fighting to not takeover my little condo. So what can I make out of this or that piece of fabric so it comes to life in a new way? Is that being an artist or is it an insanely "thrifty" (let's use the polite word for cheap, shall we?) puzzle solver. Putting the round pegs in the round holes while spending as little of my hard earned money as possible. I love jigsaw puzzles, always have. Perhaps Lucky Zelda is a fabric puzzle. While that sounds fun & the whole idea makes me smile, it doesn't make me think of "art". Sigh.

I guess the real question is, why do care so darn much? Who bloody cares if I am an artist, a craftsman, both, or neither? Perhaps it comes down to envy, ego & pride. Never three friends you want to visit at the same time. Ever. And yet as far as this topic goes, they're practically keeping their tooth brushes at my place.

I have numerous friends who are artists in various mediums. Some of them artists in multiple mediums (which totally blows my mind, by the way). I am envious of the way they can see something before it's there. I am envious of the "I gotta get this "art" out of me before my bones start burning!" (or do I, because I know this is often the cause for sleepless nights). I am envious of their creativity in the sense of "to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes". My ego would love the stroke that hearing "How in the world did you come up with that?" would give it. My ego is wounded when told by an "artist" I was trying to help, "Well, I'm an artist. I don't think that way." My pride is hurt when others treat what I do is as though they could take it or leave it. Not that an actor's costume or a Lucky Zelda purse is going to bring clean water to the world but that my work is handmade & handmade well is important to me. My pride yearns to be puffed up with accolades & praise. Aye, there's the rub.

It is not my job to have a well fed ego. It is my job to do my job to the best of my ability. End of story. The fact that I have a job I love so much I've started a side business in a similar "art" form is an undeniable fact that I am blessed beyond my worth.

So I will continue to facilitate other's creativity. I will continue to put together my "fabric puzzles". I will continue to admire the work of those around me while taking pride in the product I produce. I will attempt to do all of these things without needing or desiring a label that I believe society values. I have value without it and for that I am truly grateful.