I recently built a bed in which it is my intent that my dogs relieve themselves while we are away at work. The bed is not at all a work of pristine craftsmanship. It is however of sound craftsmanship and it does serve a purpose. I purchased two 8 foot 2×4’s, had the clerk at Home Depot cut them down to 6 foot, brought them home and drilled them together in a rectangle with the remaining 2 foot pieces left over from the cut. I then filled it with wood mulch. Immediately upon pouring the bag of mulch into the newly manufactured bed one of my dogs hopped in the bed. Her intent however, was not what I anticipated. She made a few circles, sniffed, clawed at, and then settled down into the warm mulch to nap. My dog toilet had become a dog bed. Within a few minutes the purpose of my craft had been put into question.
I have also recently submitted a body of photographic work to a contest. It is a body of work that I have exhibited and has been published in a couple of small publications. It has been rejected for other contests and publications multiple times. It has also gone through multiple incarnations in which images have been edited out and put back in. My intent however, with this body of work has remained the same. As I gave consideration to submitting or not submitting to this particular contest the question that I considered the most, was what will the judges think of my work. I read the judges list and researched their backgrounds. In the end I came to the conclusion that I should submit and that perhaps my perspective on photography and the judges perspective on photography were similar.
The progress with my dog bed has been a bit slow. I expected it to be but the process has been a bit of a frustrating one. Convincing a dog takes time. Sometimes they have gotten it right and I feel the process of building the bed is justified. Other times they are seemingly indifferent and pay no regard to my intent. This is the frustrating part of the process. This is the part of the process that gives me anxiety. Not because my dogs need to be taught and that takes time, but because something I created might fail. The progress seems promising, but in the end the dog bed might not serve it’s intended purpose. The dogs might never take to relieving themselves in a box as opposed to relieving themselves on the concrete patio. If this happens, it will be difficult to not consider my craft a failure.
I will hear the results of the photo contest in the coming weeks. My thoughts thus far have been will the judges think my work is good? What I am trying to tell myself, what I am trying to believe, is that it doesn’t matter. Thoughts inform our actions. I do believe that the way we think about something informs our actions and thus our behavior and thus our overall outlook. This is why the glass half full people always seem to have things go their way while the glass half empty people always seems to be unsettled and full of anxiety. Once I hear the results of the contest I can hopefully tell myself it does not matter. What matters is that I created a body of work with intent and purpose.
I should give more consideration to process than results. This is difficult as we live in a scientific age of which purpose and order is assigned to everything and consilience is the goal. We attempt to understand things based upon their end purpose. If they serve a purpose well and complete the intended task then that thing is of worth. This gives no space then for things to exist and have beauty in their existing state. I am not suggesting that whatever I touch turns to gold and whatever I create or whatever anyone creates is of beauty. The creative process requires refining and discipline. It requires failure as much as success. Things must not work in order that the next thing does work. But I am trying to train my thoughts and I want to believe that process is of value and simply being is of beauty.