Obsession. Dedication. Pleasure. Work ethic. Passion. Drive. Inspiration. Curiosity. Greed. Motivation. Imagination. Chaos. What are your words?
One of my father’s most unforgettable greetings was “Have you done anything useful today?” Don Snobelen was a manifestation of the protestant work ethic on steroids. Driven by his passion for flowers and his belief that a man’s value is in direct proportion to what he produces, my father worked from sun up to sun set, through one heart and four hip operations and until he was in his late 80s.
When asked where was his favourite place to be, he said, “In the greenhouse surrounded by begonias.” My father’s work was his pleasure. Growing flowers inspired him. Their beauty fuelled his imagination. The garden and the greenhouse were my father’s paradise and he lived in that paradise with religious zeal—that is a topic for a future blog.
Some say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. True, not only do I look like my father and am growing a set of jowls that match the ones on his elderly face, I work all the time. Some say that if you love your work it isn’t work at all. Also true. But there’s a dark side to that love, which is why I feel guilty this morning spending so much time remembering Don Snobelen and writing about his begonias. It’s not really useful. I have two books to edit, another one to write, policies to develop, meetings to prepare for, knitting patterns to design, others to rework…
Something keeps niggling at my brain and saying, “writing a blog is not useful”. It’s the tyranny of the protestant work ethic that’s not just about being busy it’s about being useful. But who says what’s useful?
And darker…has the act of doing become an obsession in itself? Do I constantly do because I can’t stop doing? Is there something I am avoiding, covering up with the busyness of doing things I deem useful? When asked what I want to do in life I once said, “Nothing.” I’m not sure it is possible but I would love to experience doing nothing. Even my deepest mind freeing meditation is not nothing…it’s meditation…and like my father, the zealot, I do it religiously.
And darker still…is doing being greedy? Is doing, doing, doing like getting, getting, getting? It’s not greed in the monetary sense. My father made very little money and what he did make he gave away freely. I have a similar disinterest in acquiring either money or possessions (other than beautiful shoes) and I hold on to ‘things’ very loosely. But is the voraciousness with which I pursue ideas, projects, causes and just about anything that sparks my curiosity driven by greed? This is confession time. I want it all. I want as much out of life as I can fit into the day, a week, a year. I don’t want to miss anything.
Did I hear you say lighten up, Sylvia, this is a knitting blog?
Fair enough. I have beautiful yarn in my workshop and a line up of knitting designs that are beating each other up to get to the front of the line in my brain…all wanting my attention. My knitting designs are my Father’s begonias.
They are one of my most enjoyable creative expressions. My father would say humans are created in the image and after the likeness of the God he believed in. If that God is a creator and found pleasure in his creations then I feel an affinity with my father’s belief.
Some people say that a messy desk, room, office, knitting studio is the sign of an intelligent mind…I hope so. Otherwise it’s just a sign of chaos.