I’ve often said that I would prefer to design and plant a garden than maintain one. For me, the joy is in the creation, in the building, in the discovery and in the newness. I know not everybody is that way, and that is good, for the builder and the tender need each other.
This hasn’t always served me well, it can be a weakness. With work, for example, I love new projects. In my life as an ad man, I lived for the pitch and for the challenge of bringing a new client on board. I thrived under pressure, when they would ask questions about how we would get to where they wanted to be. I never stopped thinking about building a system for them, building creative and figuring out where to launch it. Where I came up short was the maintenance; I just didn’t like it at all. If I was solo on a project, obviously this would cause problems if I didn’t do both the creating and the tending, but thankfully I rarely was, and worked with wonderful people who liked the tending, and were good at it.
I liked how Seneca put it in Letters to a Stoic, (quoting Attalus) “…In the same way as an artist derives more pleasure from painting than from having completed a picture. When his whole attention is absorbed in concentration on the work he is engaged on, a tremendous sense of satisfaction is created in him by his very absorption. There is never quite the same gratification after he has lifted his hand from the finished work. From then on what he is enjoying is the art’s end product, whereas it was the art itself that he enjoyed while he was actually painting.”
The love of creating can also be frustrating, when I want to learn and create so much and so often. Fine for the bohemian artist living in Topanga Canyon, enjoying their trust fund, but far more difficult when one is responsible for a family and employees. It can be painful at times to do the hard work of maintenance, if it’s up to me to do so. But that is indeed what I do, for life isn’t always about the easy path, or doing the things only that we enjoy. I think the key to being able to survive in life, when all I want to do is create, is understanding that this strength can also be a weakness, and to find people (at least as far as a work environment goes) that are good at what I am bad at, to fill in my shortcomings or disinterests with their talents and interests. Often times this is easier said than done, but when it happens, it’s magical.