A while back I was minding my own business at Barnes & Noble when a book called Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell jumped in my hands and held me hostage for an hour. It is a well-designed work of art peppered with wonderfully engaging thoughts on suffering and creativity and life.
One of the passages that really grabbed me was a story from the book Art & Fear about a ceramics class. The teacher divided the group in two and announced that one team would be graded on the sheer quantity of the pieces they produced, while the other would be graded solely on the quality of the one thing on which they would work.
Amazingly, the group that focused on quantity also ended up creating the piece of the highest quality.
I was recently thinking about this with respect to parenting, and all relationships, really. Everybody wants to have happy, memorable, meaningful moments with the people they love. We often refer to this as “quality time.” We often assume that these Hallmark moments can be created at will within the tiny slivers of time we carve between meetings, power lunches, recitals, soccer games, conference calls, and commutes to and from school and daycare.
The busier you are and the more full your schedule, the more desperately you need this to be true.
But what if that assumption is just plain wrong? What if our lives are like that ceramics class? (It seems to me that our most treasured relationships are as unique and fragile as any piece of pottery.)
Perhaps in order to get real quality time, we need lots and lots of quantity time. In other words, the more time we spend with the people we love, the more likely we are to experience the memorable moments of “quality” time that we crave.
The moments that last long after the results of our seemingly important daily to-do list vaporizes into the ether.
Something to think about when it comes to how you structure your day and what you decide to say yes to.
I have Drops Like Stars too – I bought it when Rob Bell was on tour here in Scotland. Hearing him talk about the things in the book brings it even more to life!
I loved that illustration, and I think you’re transferring it right with regards to quality time. I also took away that if you want to succeed at something, you have to be prepared to fail. After all, the “quantity” group will have produced some rotten pieces as well… but that didn’t really matter because they just carried on and tried again. The “quality” group couldn’t afford to fail, so they worked hard on perfection… and didn’t get there.
Anyway, just some random thoughts :) Thanks for reminding me about the book – I must dig it out and read it again.
That’s right about being prepared to fail, Chris. As a creative person, whether it’s art or design or writing, I have found without a doubt that waiting for inspiration to strike is a fruitless pursuit; the best stuff I’ve come up with has been part of a rigorous routine of creating lots and lots of stuff — most of it being quite terrible. But it’s amidst the rubbish that you find the gems.