Saturday, July 29, 2006

What I Learned about How I Work from a Reality TV Show about American Motorcycle Builders

When I was choosing my domain name, I had a few I liked. was one, because I liked the idea of me living outside the busy world and weaving (instead of meditating) in relative silence in my cave-like studio, (relative because looms can be noisy, and I often listen to music or books-on-tapes CDs,) and finding enlightenment. was another, after the lovely tree in the middle of our overgrown garden; it was the first tree we bought when we moved into our house, and regardless of its surrounds, it blooms cheerfully every spring, and some years also in the autumn, though the branches don't weep but grow upwards in all directions. was hard to drop, because I am a slow weaver, plus I am a Slow Food sympathizer. To improve my weaving, at one point I deliberately slowed down my pace at every stage to make sure I was putting in the highest quality I possibly could into my work. In the end, I chose to remind myself what I am supposed to be doing every day; to motivate myself to weave conscientiously, consistently and constantly.

The slowness of my weaving frustrates me at times, and my laziness irritates me. Working with a right arm prone to pain hasn't helped, but at the best of times, it takes a while from inception of an idea, to refinement, to selection of colors and material, to sampling, to the actual weaving, and the finish. The inception to refinement is particularly slow. I am new to this kind of creative process, and I don't understand how mine works.

It took a very unlikely event, one of Ben's TV shows, to help me understand a little. I usually have my ear plugs in during this show and read, while Ben ooohs and aaahs, and I honestly can't remember what made me watched it last Thursday. It's called American Chopper, and it's a reality TV of an Orange Country father-and-two (?)-sons team who build custom-made motorcycles. Simply put, the father is portrayed as the bossy dad/mechanic, and the eldest son as the temperamental artist with an amazing ability to transform vision into a bike. In this episode, the father complained that the son stood around doing nothing and wasted valuable time, whilst the son rebutted he was deigning, and in fact, he was trying out ideas (in this case different lines adorning the fuel tank), stepping back to see if they worked, and refining the lines.

The way the father sees his son is how I usually see myself as a worker. I pace too much, gaze at nothing for far too long, and waste an awfully lot of time. But on Thursday I understood and sympathized with the son. I realized sometimes when I think I'm being lazy, in fact, I am still designing, albeit unconsciously. And I should allow enough gestation/meditation so I understand the design better and come up with the most satisfying design.

At least that's the story this week and I'm sticking to it.


Now, I challenge you to use the words 'adorn' and 'fuel tank' in one sentence.

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