How You Do It

“What are you doing?”, I asked her.

“I’m starting over”

“But, you are destroying that piece of art! It was beautiful. There wasn’t anything wrong with it.”

“It wasn’t what I was looking for.”

This is a typical dialog between Carrie and I. I’ll watch her for days, weeks, and sometimes months on a piece of art only to watch her take it apart and to redo it. Or to destroy the piece so that she can reuse it in another piece. It can be frustrating to watch.

This isn’t unusual for artist or craftsmen to do. Many famous painters would reuse existing paintings for their next masterpiece. It isn’t that you don’t want to have that piece of art, but sometimes that thing isn’t meant to last forever. It may be intended for a particular show and after that is over it’s no longer needed. Or perhaps it didn’t come out quite like you expected and it’s time to move on to something else. What has taken years for me to understand is that it is as much about the process of creating the piece as it was about the piece itself. Don’t believe me? Just go hang out in a gallery for a little while. Art critics and non-artists will talk to the artist about the art itself. Artists will talk to the artists about how they made the piece.

I’m reminded of this when I think of value driven life. A life that is not focused on our achievements and possessions, but one that is focused on experience. It’s not about the house or the new car or your promotions or retirement, but about the journey it took to get there. And like the artists that reuses an art piece; it’s ok to take note of where you are in life and to do something different if it’s not what you expected. At the end of your life, when everything is done, it’s about how you lived that matters.