Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pain, echoes and Ghosts

I’m sort of fascinated by how easily I deceive myself.  Normally I begin the New Year and end the old by prowling the desert alone.  This gives me comfort and an inner calm that is hard for me to describe.  And each year, for the last decade or so, has run into the next without much change or real personal or professional growth.  At least it’s all been sort of imperceptible.  This New Year was different and, because of that, I had high expectations for this year.  It turns out that, so far, this has been a year filled with pain, echoes and ghosts.  I’m trying not to take this personally.

When I first started out in business every job was painful on some level or another and, therefore, a learning experience of some sort.  Either I would miscalculate the amount of time it took to do the job and end up working for very little, or I would not put some vital piece of information in the bid and it would cost me, or sometimes I would just take jobs that I didn’t have the tools or equipment or knowledge to do and that too would cause problems.  I think this is a normal learning curve.  After a couple of years I had moved past most of these situations and I had consistent customers and a fairly consistent product.  I had an array of tools and equipment and I had developed much more knowledge and many more skills.  So the challenges got farther apart and actually less interesting.  Every once in a while one of my customers would ask for something out of the ordinary that required me to stretch and I enjoyed that.  

Now, primarily because of the changing economy, I have been forced to expand my customer base and, with that, the types and styles of products I make.  And I am back to making mistakes similar to those I made when I first started.  I am enjoying these encounters with the ghost of my younger self.  They show me how much more competent I am now than I was when I started.   My craft has improved exponentially.  My ability to do business is better as is the way I solve problems.  It’s too bad that it has taken such a painful year to show me this and I could use some relief soon.  Not that I'm not enjoying this level of pain.

I am choosing to continue to deceive myself about the way this year will ultimately go.  I am choosing to look forward to making beautiful things and learning new ways of communicating.  I am choosing to believe that the pain I am feeling will bring me positive growth.  I am choosing to continue to push myself and I am choosing to try never to become complacent again.  Finally, I am choosing to experience the pain, listen fully to the echoes and embrace the ghosts.  I do hope this works out.

These are the final words of

Uncle Vanya

by Anton Checkov

SONIA. What can we do? We must live our lives. Yes, we shall live, Uncle Vanya. We shall live through the long procession of days before us, and through the long evenings; we shall patiently bear the trials that fate imposes on us; we shall work for others without rest, both now and when we are old; and when our last hour comes we shall meet it humbly, and there, beyond the grave, we shall say that we have suffered and wept, that our life was bitter, and God will have pity on us. Ah, then dear, dear Uncle, we shall see that bright and beautiful life; we shall rejoice and look back upon our sorrow here; a tender smile--and--we shall rest. I have faith, Uncle, fervent, passionate faith.  We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall hear the angels. We shall see heaven shining like a jewel. We shall see all evil and all our pain sink away in the great compassion that shall enfold the world. Our life will be as peaceful and tender and sweet as a caress. I have faith; I have faith.  My poor, poor Uncle Vanya, you are crying!  You have never known what happiness was, but wait, Uncle Vanya, wait! We shall rest. We shall rest.  We shall rest. 

I only saw it once but it made an impression.

I will get back to work. 

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