The other day I found an old piece of paper with a scribbled note on it. It said, “Which is more tragic? Not Having or Not knowing what you already have?”
Unfortunately I fall into the latter category on a daily basis. It’s truly a shame how often I allow comparison to become the “thief of joy”, as they say. Then again, I use comparison in the reverse sense to remind myself how much more I have than others. In that regard, comparison ostensibly becomes the creator of joy, which is also sad.
In an effort to determine one’s own state of joy or sorrow, why do comparisons need to happen at all? Last fall I listened to an audiobook by Jeff Shinabarger called “More or Less”. Among other things, the book asks the reader to regard several aspects of life and answer the simple question, “Do you have more or less than enough?” Enough shoes…enough money…enough social interaction?
Jeff’s question allowed me to answer it without need for comparisons, although he offered many in order to give examples of what some people live with (and without). While Shinabarger’s comparisons helped me understand the primary point of the book (that most of us owning anything such as a computer indeed have more than enough), I found his general “More or Less” question to be simple and fruitful. It doesn’t require comparisons.
In every aspect of life, I indeed have more than I need. May I not fall prey to the tragic mentality of being stuck on what I do not have.
Artist of the Week | Jaume Plensa
Pictured below at Madison Square Park | May 5 – Sep 11: “ECHO”, 2011, polyester resin, white pigment and marble dust, 44ft.
I had the pleasure of seeing this piece in person and, I must say, it was shockingly generous in its beauty. I came upon it from a distance and was quiet-yet-imposing, perhaps more than any figurative sculpture I’ve seen. If it is true that great art is art which, when removed from the world, leaves a kind of cavity or hole… then this piece attained such greatness. The elongated nature of the head offered an otherworldliness that felt pitch-perfect for the middle of New York City. The piece absorbed the attention of the entire city block, yet not in a bombastic or aggrandizing way. One might say it was generous, and in that sense it accomplished the goal of the artist, as stated in his interview below.
“Many times we talk and talk,” he said, “but we are not sure if we are talking with our own words or repeating just messages that are in the air. My intention is to offer something so beautiful that people have an immediate reaction, so that they think, ‘What’s happening?’ And then maybe they can listen a little bit to themselves.”
-Plensa discussing “ECHO” • Kino, Carol. “Monuments: The Poetry of Dreams.” New York Times, 29 May 5, 2011. Web.
From Madison Square Park website:
“‘Echo’, Plensa’s commission for Madison Square Park, depicts a nine-year old girl from Plensa’s Barcelona neighborhood, lost in a state of thoughts and dreams. Standing forty-four feet tall at the center of the park’s expansive Oval Lawn, Echo’s towering stature and white marble-dusted surface harmoniously reflect the historic limestone buildings that surround the park. Both monumental in size and inviting in subject, the peaceful visage of Echo creates a tranquil and introspective atmosphere amid the cacophony of central Manhattan.
Plensa’s sculpture also refers to an episode in Greek mythology in which the loquacious nymph Echo is forced as punishment to repeat only the thoughts of others.”
But his inspiration for “Echo,” his first public artwork in New York, was the nymph of Greek myth, condemned by Zeus to repeat the words of others. Mr. Plensa hopes that it will jolt busy New Yorkers into an awareness of their own voices.