Saturday, April 19, 2014

Difficult Work vs Hard Work

     The Great Recession rolled over our studio like a wave,  leaving us with a different dynamic - fewer humans to do more work for less money.
  So for awhile everything was multitasking, economy of materials and no movement or moment wasted.   My brain switched to a new gear that was creative, innovative and just at the edge of panic. Our studio and household were in a sort of survival mode and stayed there for several years.  We were the Nostradamus and we forged on.

 It was during this time that I learned the difference between hard work and difficult work.  It was then  I learned to dovetail the two for maximum efficiency.
Clowns will kill me in my sleep.
 But of course, there's a cost.

Eventually, I learned that
this pedal to the metal
approach is highly

Ease up, Ripley - you're
grinding the gears.

Divide and Conquer:   

Poppet on Tour waits for a polish.
Hard work is a full day of marble casting. It's mostly physical labor and plenty of it.  It sounds like a good idea to be planning and thinking while using mostly my hands.  I mean, I've got this large portion of my brain not engaged, why not make mental lists, think of everything wrong with my life or plan the next project?
  Because  over time, it's debilitating.  It can lead to the dreaded mental flat spin and a crash.  Who has time for that?

Instead, why not put on some music I really like and zone out?  I can get into the motion and routine of the work, truly enjoy the craft, and appreciate the hard-won  skill of my hands.
And I can give my brain (and creative soul) a rest and refresh.  I can enjoy the work I'm actually doing.

Difficult work is planning an exhibit, finding the right metaphor, writing an article, working out the mechanics of a kinetic piece.    Do I really need to do this while I'm loading the dishwasher or folding laundry?
Do I need to be frowning in concentration about something else while my hands are shaping beautiful wings?

  Sometimes the answer is yes.  Sometimes it's unavoidable, as in periods of change or when pushing to meet a project deadline.
Maestro continues to work on a unified theory.

  Otherwise, it's not a bad idea to give the body a rest while doing the difficult mental work.  True enough, I've had some great ideas while working.  Overall though, I solve problems more efficiently while at rest.  A casual walk, sitting comfortably somewhere or even floating in the pool.

   Difficult Work vs Hard Work.    Rest your body for one, rest your mind for the other.  You'll have more energy and be more productive in the longer run.

And don't forget that sometimes, humans must stop working, period.   We need time to play and time to rest.

Have a great Easter, fellow travelers, whether Pagan, Christian or Cadbury.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A stitch in time saves nine? It's the "in time" part that counts.


      Orion and I headed out to school this morning in a sprinkle of rain, though there were no clouds overhead.   Clouds were moving in over the mountains, which were tipped in snow.  A rainbow cut through it all like a bright banner.   As I slowed at a traffic light, the brakes whined and I heard the pop of the CV joints.  These things must be fixed soon, because it won't take long for them to fail completely, causing at worst an accident or at least affecting the whole car system and bringing it to a halt.
  The clouds are brilliantly lit.  The desert is beautiful but like the car, there are problems that threaten its dynamic.  There is a drought that isn't likely to go away.  There are sixty three golf courses in the desert.   Closing them and turning off the water that keeps them green will turn these to dust bowls.  And one thing we have enough of in the desert is blowing sand.
  Then the entire system fails.  No golf courses, no visitors.  No visitors, no economy.

  Could we live with fewer golf courses?  Could some of them be used for growing something useful, like food?   Is there a solution for the desert?   Might we find a way to sustain ourselves?  We now face the distinct possibility that we cannot.

  Systems fail.  In my observations, it seems that the micro and macro tend to mimic each other.  Small systems --  like a car, like the health of an individual, a relationship, a business, a family --seem to fail in similar fashion.   Things start to go slowly---the suspension, an untreated dental issue, a festering resentment, fewer clients, loss of income.  Things break, can't be replaced, adjustments are made and a downhill spiral begins.
  Only spirals get faster as they go.    We all know the best time to fix something is at the beginning.
Replace the button, repair the cracks.  They will only get bigger.    This applies to the washing machine that needs bearings and to the economy of a nation that's off track.  Or a desert that's based on a climate that no longer exists.

  It's very possible that we've broken our desert home.  It's possible that we've broken our planet.  It's possible that these things are beyond fixing.  Or not.

  Either way, it's clear to me that it's past time for a very large shift in our thinking.   It's clear that if we continue to put off the things we can change, we'll be faced with things we can't.

  Does this stuff worry me?  Every day.  But not all day.  I can only change myself and the small bit I can reach.  But if I'm doing what I can, I have more peace.

  Tell me your thoughts.  Do you worry?  How is your life affected by the changes, and by the knowledge that more change is coming?