Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Working in Relative Obscurity"

Yesterday was a Beautiful Day, a day when almost anything seems possible . We are broken but we will “pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off” (to quote the new chief) . The heavens, can you hear us? I was not the only one with tears streaming down my face, tears of joy and hope, perhaps a reason to carry on.

And speaking of picking myself up and dusting myself off, something which I’ve been doing for years yet with no understanding of the process or the meaning. The Today Show defined it this morning when they were interviewing Isabel Toledo, an artist and designer who “has worked in relative obscurity for over 25 years”. She is the clothing designer who designed the beautiful “lemongrass yellow” ensemble Michelle Obama wore to her husband’s inauguration yesterday.

“Relative Obscurity” is a term I’d never considered. It brought to mind a gentleman I met in 1996, Huesti. He was very old in 1996, perhaps close to 85. He was a retired railroad mechanic in New Hampshire who I’d been privileged to meet through a fellow metal smith, Alan Perry. Alan was having something made by Huesti that would fit into the clock Alan had been commissioned to make for a private club. We visited Huesti in the fall while the leaves were falling in the little house where he lived with his wife. Upon entering I noticed how small and unassuming he was. As I glanced around I noticed that the first and second floors were filled with clocks: back to back and on top of each other, piles of clocks. Ticking clocks, grandfather clocks and mantel clocks. Seems he liked to repair clocks. Huesti ushered us downstairs to his workshop. We could hardly walk but for a small passageway that wove itself between lathes, vertical drilling machines and other large equipment. I looked up and there was a miniature train track suspended from the ceiling which was at eye level and which I had to duck around. There on two work tables in front of me were model trains, designed and created to scale in stainless steel, silver, nickel and brass. They were magnificent. Each beautifully crafted with brass ornamentation. They worked and hummed around the suspended tracks and rails.

That day I could hardly speak as Alan and I walked down the stone walkway towards the car. Huesti was brilliant and I will never forget this talent who worked in “relative obscurity”. I have always felt simpatico with Huesti, reminding myself that there are millions of talents in this world and across America who work tirelessly, without fame or recognition merely for the passion they experience in what they create. I relate and realize that I also work in relative obscurity, fueled by the passion for which I create. I do not wait for the fame or the fortune, merely I wait for the sun to rise for the next day in which I can create, imagine and transform. Truly this is the defininition of opportunity.

And for this I thank you, my cult following.


from: 1-14-09

I look around me and what do I see? Immediately I am struck by the silence and fear. I am conscious of “holding on”, a pattern of the attempt to stabilize with the world. That is why I’ve been listening lately to loud Rock and Roll. I go to the gym and work it out while the rockers spit it out. Suits me just fine. Sure, I’m pissed off and I know everyone else is too. Too many lies, broken promises and “bad things happening to good people”. Some days it just gets so hard to see the beauty, but I know it is there. Intellectually, I understand the cycle of life, but emotionally I’m spread pretty thin and one thing is for sure: I’m tired.

In this New Year we have New Promises. I hope they are not broken. I yearn for honest repair and a starting over, even if it is from scratch. I breathe to hear honesty. When the wind howls and the snow falls I see the animals hunting for food and beyond, a beautiful sunset. This is the only sign I have that a regeneration does exist. There is my security.