I am about to head out this morning, for a huge family get together in the town of Siliyt, a bit to the north. I was going to leave early in the morning… because there is a general strike going on here in Israel, for good reason, I believe. I’m not sure. Because I haven’t really studied the issue. And I know that sometimes the media misrepresents what’s going on… But my impression is that this strike is justified. Even so, I don’t identify with it so much that I wouldn’t mind crawling through tedious traffic jams in its honor. And though it’s Friday today, and that is the first day of our weekend, and therefore, a day on which there usually is only minimal traffic; since the train is on strike too, in all likelihood a lot of people who don’t usually get out on the road, will be using their cars, or will take a bus. And so, I was going to leave early.
But I was also going to write a post on the blog… yesterday, according to plan. My intention was to write it yesterday, and then post it today… so you wouldn’t even notice the difference. But things came up. And as they say, time moves quickly when you’re having fun. The reason for the gathering, is a very important birthday that Roy, my grandson, is going to celebrate this weekend. I don’t usually celebrate birthdays. When I have a birthday of my own, it’s my custom to hide away, and fast all day, occupied with soul searching. But if someone is celebrating, I try to join in the spirit of the occasion.
And so, I’ve been thinking about what I could say to a young man at the start of his life, that might add something to the day.
Sometimes I read a piece of writing, or look at a work of art, and I am struck by the disparity between the talent of the individual, and their obvious lack of self discipline. My guess is that it’s a sign of the times. If someone was born in Butte, Montana, and had the English language bubbling around him all the days of his life, he might just think that nobody should tell him how to speak or write, and that grammar and spelling are for those who don’t feel as comfortable with the language as he does. And likewise, in other forms of art, if someone has been blessed with a natural talent, and is able to translate a vision, captured in his or her mind, on to paper, canvas, computer or a structure of any sort, and thus share his or her vision with countless others… who remind this artist with regularity, that he or she is a hell of a good fellow, and touches the hearts of the public… of what importance is studying the conventions of the art world, or art history for that matter? What could possible be gained by spending long hours in trivial considerations of rules invented by academics, or masters long dead?
But strangely enough, this attitude of laissez faire creativity has not been universally accepted in other fields of human endeavor. If a person gets it into his head that he wants to climb mount Everest, he doesn’t usually go to the nearest sports depot, buy a walking stick… and then go off to conquer the mountain. Nor does a person who has had the luck to inherit a large sum of money, start investing on the stock exchange, without first studying a bit about trade and tendencies, and observe with great intensity, what has happened to others who invested before him. I am not speaking of those occupations in which one cannot find gainful employment without producing some sort of evidence of having studied the profession and having received accreditation. Even on the open market, , and in the purchase of a home or a car, people usually wish to learn quite a bit before plunging in. And in sports, as in music, it is generally accepted that a devotion to practice, and long hours of developing skills, is essential to succeeding in the field of one’s choice… So, what is it about the arts?
On the other hand, is there any point in an old grandfather giving advice to a young man about to discover the world? Some of us still chuckle over the line in ‘The Graduate’, when that young man was advised to go into ‘plastics’. Now if it had been computers, we might think that there was a telling hint of what the future had to offer. But plastics… we are still trying to figure out how to recycle that material before we all choke on the disposable utilities we so enjoyed.
The photos above are of almond blossoms.