Saturday, November 13, 2010

Of Lamborghini's and Soul

A thought came to me, I'm not sure now how, but would I, if I could, buy a Lamborghini.  On one hand the easy answer is "duh, of course!"  I have admired Lamborghini cars since the mid 1970s.  On the other hand the answer is much more complicated and it revolves around "stewardship".  Not a word I enjoy or even frequently use.  None-the-less there it is.  If I earned enough money that it was like dropping $200 or maybe even $2000 then sure I probably would.  As I continued to mull over just how much I would have to earn to do that I drifted away from stewardship - largely because I was passing a Gallardo on Interstate 10 just west of Loma Linda.  I realized that at the age of 13 I would have sold my mother to the Tusken Raiders of Tatooine to have a Countach, but a mere "few" years later I simply was appreciating the car as art - the finest of automotive art.  The kind of art that I can appreciate in the Lourve or that a friend or foe may own.  Not something I need to possess.  Not something that would even be a status symbol if I owned it myself.

I started thinking about art.  Where is it?  Certainly it is in "Oil and Canvas".  We can say "Music" as well.  Certainly we can debate the "good or bad - ness" of art - and if we do I'll bring up about 90% of automotive design of the 70s.  But for now skipping judgement and interpretation of the quality of art, I began to see that art is all around.  I enjoy roasting coffee.  The people selecting the beans from around the world and providing tips are engaged in art.  The manner in which I roast is an art.  Automobile design is art, not just the design of the body, but the mechanics and engineering is an art and the blending of the bits and pieces is art.  On our honeymoon we stayed four nights at Colton House which the guide book suggests asking the owner about his home brewed beers and I began to get an idea of the art of beer.  We toured the Deschutes Brewery in Bend and I was reminded to appreciate the variety and depth of artistic endeavor in the creation and brewing of beer.  We toured the Tillamook Cheese factory and, later the Rogue River Cheese factory (still hand-turned) and found (unsurprisingly) just how artistic cheese making really is.  We visited a chocolate maker who offers up his own artistry.  We dropped into Bath and Body Works and as I write this am enjoying some scent Trixy sprayed onto a card.  There is an art to scent making.  Auto-mechanics of Cameroon (at the very least) are artistic.  And medicine is said to be a marriage of "art and science".  

My point here isn't art AND/OR science but that all IS art AND science.  All of this got me thinking that because of our biases, distractions, perspectives, values, and baggage, more often than not we seem to miss the artistry that is presented to us every day.  Dinner out involves the chefs, waiters, and others: the look, aroma, taste, and ambiance are integrated into an artistic whole.  Whether you drive a Lamborghini or Kia Soul creative effort was invested.  Whether a movie, a photograph, a song, a poem, or a painting has any commercial appeal becomes irrelevant to the artistic expression.  Yet we so often judge success based on consumer reception.  We judge based on our tastes and biases.  We warm to an artist or not.  Others may or may not agree with our assessment.  So whether you are e.e. cummings or Paul Neil Milne Johnstone, Ansel Adams or the average Joe Snapper it is important to remember this isn't about judging qualities between our perspective and the creator's.  As an individual I can like or dislike something and that has nothing to do with the artistry of the creator.  Vogons and Ferraris are both invested with a creator's artistry whether or not I appreciate them.

And on a drive during Annual Leave, I was thinking about all the people who feel like cogs in the gears of systems in which they have no input.  Whether or not they have the opportunity to add to the creative output of their respective widgets, the manner in which each approaches their work is an artistic endeavor.   We enter into the artistic endeavors of job performance, dialogue, marriage & relationship building, and people empowerment.

All of this brings me back to stewardship.  We are who we are: skills, experiences, biases, temperament, and cultivated tendencies.  We are stewards of ourselves.  Our thoughts and actions influence events around us and we can come to realize the shared stewardship we have towards one another and all that we know of as "life".  If I may put forward that "good" stewardship is investing our best artistry in all we do.  This thought brings me back to my father's words:  "Do what you love and do your best doing it."  That itself is an artistic endeavor.