Thursday, April 11, 2013

A cheer for the amateurs

Martha, who writes the blog Plowing Through Life, mused recently about the joy she experiences when taking photographs.

While not a professional photographer, her work is often very good. She has the "eye" to see the opportunity when it presents itself, the talent to compose the picture well, and the technical skill to capture a good image. She says she has been captivated by photography since receiving her first camera in her early teens.

I commented on her blog post that, while I greatly enjoy looking at good photography, I have no talent for doing it myself, nor any inclination to spend time learning to do it.

There is a sharp dividing line that separates the enjoyment of creating a thing from the enjoyment of the thing, itself.

For example, I enjoy making music with my guitars, composing tunes, experimenting with techniques to get a particular tone, and so on. This gives me much more pleasure than listening to recorded music.

My wife is, among her many talents, an excellent, gourmet cook. For her, cooking is an art, and her adventurous experiments in the kitchen have produced many memorable dinners. I am happy to be the beneficiary.

A neighbour showed me a finely crafted rocking horse that he had built for a grandchild. The joy of creation for him, a child's delight, and a future heirloom.

A volunteer in our Florida condo community has beautified our neighbourhood with plantings of flowers, shrubs, and trees. She has acquired the requisite knowledge, has a design sense that combines these elements in pleasing ways, and possesses the passion to drum up the necessary support.

Cabinet makers, sculptors, painters, gardeners, winemakers, jewellery makers, woodcarvers, poets, weavers, glassblowers, potters, candlemakers, aerobatics pilots, car customizers, and all the rest, doing it their way.

What good fortune to be surrounded by talented amateurs, to enjoy the fruits of their creativity, perhaps to discover our own gift, and to have the opportunity to pursue it.


  1. Yes, I'm all for pursuing our interests and gifts without worrying if the end result is "perfect" or "good enough." Too many people let that fear stifle their creativity.

    1. I'm a bit ambivalent about that. For some of us, striving to meet a certain standard is part of the challenge, and achieving it is a source of pleasure.

  2. Very interesting comments. When I work in oil pastels the only thing I fear is the cost of the paper. And that is a real concern - most of the cold press paper I use is outrageously expensive, but I make mistakes and frame very few pieces. However when something works I am overjoyed! I guess I agree with both of you. And I certainly agree with you about Martha's eye for a photograph! I really enjoyed this post, Doug. I love mulling over your pearls of wisdom!

  3. Thank you for the mention, and for the compliment!

    And what a great post. Everyone enjoys something creative that relaxes and inspires them. The people I know all have talents, but they don't all pursue them. Sometimes it's a matter of not having enough time; sometimes it's fear of not being good enough. The former is a little more understandable, but the latter is truly a shame. You get to live this life once, and it's best to enjoy it while you can.

    How lucky you are to be married to a gourmet cook! I would love to have me one of those!! :)