Friday, March 29, 2013

Perspectives on failure

Yesterday evening we went in to Seattle (again! twice in one week!) to meet with the incoming president of Maine's Island Institute.  The Institute does some very impressive work building connections between the islands of Maine and helping them adapt to shifting economic and social currents; we've been supporting them for years now.  So it was exciting to see them reaching out to islanders in other parts of the country for the exchange of ideas and experiences.

... and of course I brought my camera with me: though my focus is mostly rural and waterfront scenes these days, the city provides a wealth of photographic opportunities -- and I always love photographing the unsual perspectives of the Seattle Library, one of Frank Gehry's more impressive contributions to our fair city.

It's curious.  One of the reasons it took me 60 years to put a brush to canvas is that, despite several courses I've taken, I've never been able to master the art of drawing perspective.  I love to photograph it, but my brain just doesn't seem to be able to reduce 3-dimensional subjects to a 2-dimensional drawing. It's a bit like my friend Janet, who never seems to be able to accurately estimate which of her many tupperware containers is the right size to contain the leftovers she wants to put away.  She's brilliant in every other respect; it's just this spatial piece that seems to be missing. 

We all have our little quirks and foibles, things that come easily to others but not to us.  I fully believe that we all have the same amount of brain power, it's just allocated differently.  Each of us has gifts and failings: the gifts, rightly used, can help others; the failings, lovingly accepted, keep us ever mindful that we are not perfect, and that we need the help of others to survive.  The problem comes, I think, when we cannot admit our weaknesses, and cannot bring ourselves to ask for help: I've seen a number of organizations fail because their leaders were unwilling or unable to admit their failings and delegate that work to others. 

For some reason we are often ashamed to admit our weaknesses -- something I've been struggling a lot lately.  I threw my back out coughing a couple of weeks ago, and haven't been able to do a lot of the household tasks that normally come easily to me.  But for some odd reason I can't seem to bring myself to ask my husband for help.  It's as if some part of me thinks my neediness will drive him away; that imperfection somehow equates to unloveableness.  So it's been an interesting opportunity to look more closely at a part of me that's usually hidden -- and to see how more than willing my husband is to help if I can just remember to ask.  We who have failings tend to forget that it can actually be a gift to others to ask for their help...


Maureen said...

Wishing you a peaceful and joy-filled Easter weekend, Diane.

Cheryl said...

Why label our differences as failings? Since it appears we both grew up believing that our differences set us up for ridicule, (what I heard was why cant you be more like your sister), we internalized the differences as being "bad", when in actuality they are just differences.