Crafting Beauty

Beauty cannot be created in a perfect world. When everything’s perfect, there’s nothing to add or subtract. So perhaps the world is flawed by design to allow for the transformation of ugly into beautiful. How many times do I see someone restoring an old rusty tool or mending and enhancing broken furniture or remodeling a worn-down house? Or even in programming, people refactoring or fixing broken code? The point is this: taking something ugly or broken and making it functional or beautiful is an ingrained part of the human experience.

So in that sense, I’m not born perfect. I’m not good enough as-is. I’m a mess. I’m a clump of raw material. If left unworked, I will remain mud. My work as an artist then, entails shaping myself into something I’m impressed with. And this could mean doing research, grabbing tools, applying discipline – whatever it takes to form a human I’m proud of. That’s the path.

Maybe that’s what it means to be “true to yourself”. You have an idea of who you are – but now you have to use whatever’s around to make it real. Applying paint to canvas in order to conjure the self into being. It’s easy to think the image we see of ourself shows the future. It doesn’t, it just shows the target we’re aiming at. The path is not a carefree ride on a rail. You’re only given the goal – you must apply effort and resourcefulness to get there.

I suppose that’s where I got it wrong. I could see what I wanted to be. I figured the path was pre-formed and I simply had to go along for the ride. But it’s more like a dense jungle sitting between me and my goal and I have to hack my way through the thick brush to get there – if I ever do get there. Again, I think that was another mistake: thinking the destination was more important than the path. A human as a canvas is never complete – that’s the charm and challenge.