The Art of Doing

Hello blogheads! It's been ages as usual. The following post is one I dug up recently as I was updating my teaching portfolio. It's interesting that many of the things I wrote about then are just as relevant 7 years later.

It's one of the cornerstones of why I teach....enjoy!

Losing the Art of Doing
Has our fast-food/microwave society robbed us of the steps to gratefulness?
Written May 27, 2002
By Jenny Kinscy

No one knows how to do anything anymore. Heaven forbid we have a technology meltdown, what will we do then??? Who will survive?

Make no mistake: technology is an important component to many aspects of our lives. The advances in technology have replaced the need for many of the processes that would take us time to complete. We can talk to people through our computers instead of writing letters. We can buy our clothes, food and entertainment ready-made without the fuss of doing anything ourselves. Some of us can even hire other people to do the “tedious work” like laundry, cleaning, tending to our children to avoid doing it ourselves. This, I believe is bringing us to lopsided lives, in which we are no longer really involved. We don’t bring anything to our lives anymore. Many of us sit and wait for life to come to us as a result. We as a society have worked to obliterate the processes that involve us in life. We have wiped out the steps we follow to do things to make life more expedient. But in doing so, we lose a great deal of purpose and appreciation for what we obtain. Our lives are imbalanced.

Today most people want everything “right now,” without putting any work into getting the things they want. If there is an easier shortcut to doing something or attaining something, most people will take it.

As a result—and as with many things-- our children are following our lead. Pop culture is churning out fame at an instantaneous speed. Celebrities, advertisements, images of public figures and stories we hear all associate fast with good, while dangerously sloughing over taking any steps to get to that fame. So, our society is producing people, adults and children, who are more focused on the destination than the journey in getting there.

My father and I sat in his living room one night, digging out old family relics from the storage room. He and I reminisced over pictures of aunts, grandma, and other relatives. We laughed and refreshed each others memories while dusting off my old grade school report cards, awards, and even some third grade art work.

After more searching through our storage bins, I found an old JC Penney catalog, from 1976. Amazed that we still had it, I began thumbing through the catalog. I flipped past so many pages filled with dress patterns, young girls knitting, and other craft supplies. For a moment I thought about how different the contents were compared to the catalogs we get now. As my father and I talked, I realized that kids today are not focused on these kinds of crafts or the skills they help build.

But my ideal is about more than learning a trade or hobby. The “Art of Doing” is in direct relation to the “Art of Truly Being” in my opinion. Are we just sitting here, following some script of things we’re supposed to do before we die? How boring! There has to be more to life than that. How many of us can or do really look at ourselves outside of our roles in life to see what's there? Is there anything? Shouldn't there be? We as miraculous creations of a Higher Power owe it to ourselves to explore what that something else is. And I believe that we can find that, just in the simple art of doing...of completing a process.

The World Trade Center disaster was a major indicator for many that time waits for no one. Our days are not promised to us. I know we've all experienced a newfound gratefulness, but what are we really doing with our lives? It is my hope that as I have, you are examining this very idea, questioning the true value of the things in your life.

Have you ever heard of assembly line workers or data entry operators who love what they do and wondered how in the world could they? That, to me, is the Art of Doing at work. The act of doing something that has steps to follow can be very freeing. Our personalities, our own individual humanness is the variable that shines when observed against the structure of a process.

My dad enjoys gardening. He told me the other day "You know I love this. It relaxes me so." I have no doubt about that. His home is draped in sprays of living greenery on every floor and in every room. Every now and then I catch glimpses of my father, happily tending to each plant, digging his hands into moist soil to plant new seeds, and watering his "babies," a term of endearment for his plants. I sense wholeness in him, one which I doubt he could get from having someone else tend the garden for him.

Easy Come, Easy Go
When the process of doing things yourself is eliminated, we miss out on being grateful for the end product. In a way it feels as though we haven't done anything to get to our goals. So why then, should we expect to appreciate it fully and strive or fight to keep it?

I've heard it said that successful living lies not within arriving at our destinations, but the experiences, good and bad, along the way.

Many of us dismiss and forget those experiences, running at breakneck speed towards our goals. That is a mistake. Life and destiny implore us again and again to stop and take notice, meditate and think deeply about our paths, how we got here, where we are, what we are doing and who we experience as we strive to get there. It is the decisions we make and the reactions we choose to enact along the way that define us.

We all need to become people of character and not material possession. This doesn't mean, sell all your belongings and wander through the thick of the woods or desert. Things come and go, and anyone can attain those baubles and trinkets that temporarily tickle those you wish to impress. But your character lasts far longer in hearts and minds. Look at Jesus Christ. Look at Buddha. Look at Muhammad (PBTH). Look at Martin Luther King. Look at Malcolm X. Look at our countless other heroes. The human race holds all of these people in an esteem that is virtually iconic. But in reality, they possessed humanity just like we do. We are all capable of these great things, of being brave, of being people of character. We all affect people in ways we will always have yet to realize.

The people I have mentioned all went through some kind of process to attain what they knew was truly good. Most didn't live to even see the lasting influence of their efforts. So surely they couldn't count on just the destination as inspiration. But, as many of you know, billions of people across this planet continue to live by those defining moments in their lives, being in awe of their dedication to the art of the long, arduous, unpopular, and ultimately rewarding process.

Ask yourself: What are you doing to get “there”? When all is said and done, whose lives will be impacted by your defining moments?

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