Sunday, May 15, 2011

Process not Product: The Life Made by Hand

During the middle ages craftsmen would sometimes take their entire lives to create a personal masterpiece. Stained glass windows would be created one pane at a time without the need to rush or have a product they could show off to family and friends. Weavers would create entire tapestries one thread at a time and it wasn't until many years later that the true beauty of the piece would emerge as the last threads were put into place.

In today's world, we have become focused on product rather than process, on completing many tasks in order to keep our lives running and manageable. Certainly, order can be a bi-product of this approach but at what expense? For some, the feeling of creative chaos may be uncomfortable and in fact may be avoided in favor of a task oriented approach to life. When we are in the midst of process, the threads of our life may feel like they are undone or unraveling, when in fact we are creating the larger tapestry that may be difficult to see.

What Are Your Personal Vignettes?

Looking at our lives as a series of vignettes can be a helpful way to bring to light both significant events as well as time periods that were marked by people, places, and things. What were you doing in your twenties? Were there certain people who come to mind, events that were important, changes made? If you were creating a stained glass window, what would the theme of that time period be? Think of a word or catch phrase such as education, meeting the world, marriage, children, or any other phrase that describes the gem or pearl of your experiences. Is there a symbol that represents the time without words? A spiral,  pyramid, a tree. Then follow the thread into your thirties and look to see what the new theme might have been. Did the tree of your twenties grow or did you change direction and plant something else? 

During our lives we create different stories or Personal Vignettes that encapsulate the gist of the time period  and when woven together later, create the whole of our lives. Think of a snapshot or picture-what would your personal snapshot look like when you were in your youth, mature adulthood? Decide on the setting for your Vignette. What was the tone? Calm, energizing, chaotic, fearful, adventurous? A combination of all of the above! You are painting a picture of your life and part of that picture is the way it felt to you. Then there is color- blues, reds, greens, all of the above? Once you have pulled together the threads of the past, then take a look at how they relate to where you are now. See the bigger picture. Nothing happens in isolation and every moment of life relates to every other moment, eventually blending together to weave the life we are living now. Enjoy these moments and trust in the process. 

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