Glass Blower1

I love craftsmen.  By 'craftsmen' I mean anyone who is skilled at their craft - male or female, artist or truck driver or paper pusher.  Craftsmen take pride in what they do not because they have to but because they actually enjoy what they do.  I have watched a person behind a counter in a sub shop put a sandwich together with skill and dexterity and flourish, working with a team who dance around together from the coffee pot to the refrigerator to the cash register.  Simple movements.  Simple ballet.  I've watched a glass blower extract a bird from a molten piece of glass with a few simple twists of the wrist, twists that took a dozen years or more to master.  I have listened a builder explain with joy the solution to a complex structural problem and make it look easy.

Finding the joy in any task is not easy.  Some tasks are so mundane and so repetitive and so seemingly meaningless that it is hard to master the artistry.  Making a thousand sandwiches a day could be pretty boring.  A nurse in a hospital rehabilitation program who has to work with continuous groups of overweight elderly people who don't care enough to take care of themselves could be a chore.  Distributing the mail day after day could induce ennui.

It is easy to be in awe of Michelangelo or Shakespeare or Einstein.  Noticing and appreciating and recognizing skilled, everyday craftspeople gives color and artistry to the tapestry of my life.  And if you say to a ticket agent at an airport as you watch him handle the paperwork and bags and dance through the turmoil, "Wow.  You're really good at this!"  he'll probably think you're kidding, but then a smile might just grow on his face as he recognizes that you are serious followed by a pause.  "Thank you . . . next!"