I’ve known people with tremendous technical ability that haven’t gone very far. I’ve also known people with tremendous insight that never bothered to learn their craft. Craftsmanship is something that’s really going out now. The young people have no patience with craftsmanship any more. They think, therefore they am. It’s not enough. You don’t think, therefore you are. You do, therefore you are, or else you aren’t. Thinking is not enough. Sensitivity is not enough. People want to be accepted for sensitivity, for tender thoughts, for high ideals. That’s not enough. What can you do with it besides just feel it? You’ve got to do something with it or you’ll have the greatest unpublished novel ever, and the greatest unpainted canvas. What good is that? It’s no damn good…You do, therefore you are.
Shel Silverstein, 1963
“I think, therefore I am” is a lovely sentiment but all the sentiment in the world won’t take us very far if there is no action or craft to go along with it. We are what we do, not what we think about doing, or wish we had done.
What use are brilliant ideals, talents, and thoughts if we don’t act on them? The only way to learn a craft is to do it. Put paint on a canvas, write a silly limerick, tend your favourite tree, live your life. Dedicate yourself to doing anything often enough and you can become a master. To work steadily, learn constantly, craft our days patiently with the resources we have – this is craftsmanship of the highest degree, the making of a meaningful life.
Thinking and feeling alone are no good for anyone. We have to combine thinking, feeling, and doing – not only in our work, but in every aspect of who we are. Imagine what could be possible if we master our talent and time enough to let us go about turning our lives into art.
What will you do with your talent and time this week?