Saturday, February 21, 2009

success and joy?

I was talking to my mother last night, and those of you who have read deeply into the blog would know that she is a retired kindergarten teacher. She thinks that working with children is the most joyous and honorable of professions. So when I mentioned that my daughter Lucy is working with kindergarten students in the Columbia University day school as her on-campus employment, my mother was excited. "Do you think she will change her major?" She asked eagerly.

As I mentioned, I am reading Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, the Story of Success. The book is about the factors contributing to success and focuses on the big names, like Bill Gates and the Beatles. But what is success anyway? Is there a single point at which one can be considered a "success?" Or is it best measured in smaller increments and met moment by moment in our own lives? And what about joy?

I have been engaged in a struggle with design and materials. I am making a bench (with children's help) for the new museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, Crystal Bridges. The walnut was supplied from the site, and when I got into the pile of it, I found much of it to be splintered and cracked. I am having to be very frugal and specific in the use of each piece. So I have been awake nights thinking about it and have a deadline of March 27. In the making of real things success or failure is measured in very small increments. The photo above is of the walnut and a model of the intended design. The photo below is of the current high school chemistry/woodworking project, making a periodic table of elements using wood and baby food containers to hold the elements.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Success is a pretty slippery idea. To me it's a wealth of friends, a healthy family, a comfortable place to live and the time to do creative things.

Mario