This I Believe

LAURIE - ELGIN, Illinois
Entered on July 3, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: carpe diem

A grandpa-like fisherman was standing knee-deep in his olive green waders. Surrounded by duckweed plants in the Fox River, on a crisp, beautiful, spring day he was casting upstream into the murky current when my husband called out to him, “How’s the fishing?”

“Oh, the fishin’s GREAT!” he responded with smiling eyes, “but, the catchin’s not so good!”

We all chuckled and we continued on with our walk, and he continued on casting into the fishless waters. His comment flooded me with immense pleasure.

Yes…that’s it! That’s what I’ve always believed. Life is about the fishing, not the catching. It’s the process, not the product… the doing, not the getting. And, it’s up to me to be the doer.

My basement is a shrine to my belief. Dozens of paintings and art products sit piled up in a corner unfinished. Now, if I made my living as a painter, I would be in big trouble. But, I don’t. So, I can enjoy the luxury of the process. For me, creating artwork is a sort of mental gymnastics, a self-challenge, a kind of meditation. I begin a piece thinking my composition will eventually be a compelling product, but then I get lost in the process. I slowly begin to focus on the lights and darks, the colors and materials, and not on the objects. Friends and family know that I like to paint and often ask to see my work. I shyly abstain from exhibiting my creations. How can I explain that I don’t concentrate on products. I paint for me. I enjoy the process. I fish.

My daughter’s ballet teacher was discussing posture with her young students. She explained that posture is more than the physical alignment of the body. Posture also has to do with mental attitude. To have good posture means your mental and physical states are energized, focused, aligned. This state of being can only be realized if you are fully aware of the moment. Exquisite dancers seem to exude this type of perfect posture. When I see beauty, laugh with loved ones, experience the sights and smells around me, I appreciate that my posture is aligned and I am living in the moment.

So, I will try not to focus on the items bought, the pictures taken, and the products produced. I’ll take adventures and enjoy the moments. Whether that adventure takes me to far-away lands or to the muddy, duckweed covered river next door. I hope to be happy in the doing, like the fisherman. That way, I believe, the fishing can always be great.