This I Believe

Judith - Glencoe, Illinois
Entered on September 16, 2007

Many years ago I was at an art fair where I had the pleasure of a conversation with an Alaskan sculptor. He shared with me the philosophy of his art, and it so impressed me that it has become a major philosophy of my life. This is what he told me:

When he begins a project, he finds an interesting piece of stone, or bone, and he studies it to determine what is inside. When he decides what is inside, he thinks about how to help it be revealed, and then he is ready to chip away at the excess material that is hiding whatever is waiting to be revealed.

He told me that he never decides in advance that he will make a bear or a walrus….he lets the material speak to him, because imposing his own predetermined agenda on bone or stone is more difficult and ultimately it does not yield as beautiful a piece.

For me, this philosophy is easily translated into the secret of successful human relationships. It has to do with seeking first to understand, and only after understanding, seeking to be understood.

It has to do with respecting what is fundamental and innate in another being, and then fostering and encouraging the shape of its outward expression. It also has to do with teaching us that we cannot successfully achieve change in any meaningful lasting way by simply enforcing external pressure….

true change only happens from the inside out….and never from the outside in.

There is also a lesson in this philosophy that is related to the Golden Rule: It makes sense to me that we all seek to be understood, and treated with respect instead of judged and forced to change to meet someone else’s standards.

I believe that I can improve the many and varied interactions with the people in my life by remembering the code of the Alaskan Sculptor…at least I can try.