I read this morning that pieces of sculpture created by Brad Pitt are on display in Tampere, Finland until mid-January next year. Though I do not doubt that Pitt’s considerable artistic talent played a significant role in the decision by (someone…I know not who) to show his work, the skeptic in me attributes quite a bit of the decision to factors involving Pitt’s fame and wealth. No matter how much talent and artistic skill and creative vision I might develop, my artwork will never find a place in Tampere, Finland. Nor, for that matter, in any recognized gallery anywhere in the world. I’m too poor and too old for my art to merit public display anywhere of consequence. Of course, considerable time has passed since I attempted to create physical art. I abandoned those efforts when it became apparent to me that am lacking the requisite capacity. I do not have and probably never will have the abilities nor the considerable materials necessary to transform my mental visions of sculpture I would like to create into actual, physical forms. I have ideas for sculpture and large-scale pieces of art. Lacking, though, are the materials necessary for creating them and the technical skills required for translating creative visions into physical representations of those visions. I could offer the same excuses for my failure to be a wealthy and highly sought-after actor; I possess neither the talent management resources nor the training and innate acting skills necessary to be a wealthy actor. Much the same could be said about why I am not a neurosurgeon, an architect, nor a captain of industry. I do not regret my inability to do brain surgery or to be an actor or to guide the direction of important industries. But if I could rebuild my life from the ground up, I might devote much more attention to creative arts, including sculpture and architecture. That being an impossibility, I have no choice but to just move on; wading through retirement from service as a meaningless pawn in a useless series of unnecessary endeavors.
I once got as close as 112 miles from Tampere, Finland, though at the time I did not know that Tampere existed. In fact, I did not know about Tampere until this morning. But one day many years ago, I spent an entire day wandering the streets of Helsinki with my late wife. We both were quite happy to have had the opportunity to visit that city, in spite of the fact that neither of us were world-renowned sculptors and despite our ignorance of the existence of Tampere. The lesson, as I contemplate my life this morning, is that regret for unreached dreams is pointless; gratitude, instead, for actual experiences is far better. Even modest accomplishments serve as a better foundation for happiness than does the recollection of shattered dreams.
I also read this morning that friends are enjoying a week of camping at Lake Ouachita. Though I have little experience camping, I know that sitting quietly in a wooded setting at water’s edge has the effect of melting stress and replacing it with happy serenity. There are at least two distinct types of “get-aways.” One is like the one I think my friends are enjoying; simple relaxation in a pleasant setting, with no pressure to “do” anything. The other is more like the one I am experiencing now: getting away from the normal day-to-day grind and replacing it with opportunities to see and experience new settings. The latter kind involves almost constant motion and a drive to move on to the next experience. Though the latter experience is quite enjoyable, it does not erase stress the way the former does. I think I want some of the kind of experience in which I am under no obligation to go anyplace or do anything. Just “be.” Just let the environment melt the stress away. Perhaps another “vacation” will involve renting a water-side cabin for a week, far away from any “attractions,” and simply soaking in the calm, comforting experience. I used to scoff at such experiences; no longer. I long for them. Even in the relative serenity of retirement, getting away from the daily demands that accompany living in the presence of masses of humanity (no matter how small and semi-rural) is deeply appealing.
Our “home base” for the moment (for four days in total) is a very nice, modern suite in a nice, modern hotel property. I described it in an earlier post: it has a small kitchenette (stove, refrigerator, sink, microwave, coffee maker), a separate living area with a large screen TV, a separate bedroom (also with a TV), a separate room with toilet and shower, and plenty of closet space. When we leave here, it’s likely our “on the road” accommodations will not be quite as fancy, but they will be adequate. We have consciously decided to spend more than the bare minimum so we have far more than the bare minimum of accommodations. In fact, we try to find accommodations that might be considered luxurious by some standards, while limiting the financial damage to the extent we can. Motel 6 or Red Roof Inn or similar places are fine, but not for us. We want considerably thicker walls and somewhat more upscale accouterments. So we go for Hampton Inn or Homewood Suites, etc. I keep toying with the idea of buying a self-powered RV (i.e., a motorized vehicle with its own accommodations), but the cost of ownership and the cost of site rental quickly compares unfavorably to motel rooms. On the other hand, the experience is quite different. Renting an RV is obscenely expensive; otherwise, I might try it. I suppose I’ll keep bouncing back and forth, mentally, until either I make a firm decision or until I acknowledge that I won’t. We shall see.
Sunday, we attended services at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady. I fell in love with the building. So, I’m hoping to post two photos I took. One is a shot of the front of the building and the other is the circular sanctuary (empty, after the service). Just for the record.