The Need For Tangible Achievements

This man was friends with me,
a mentor, a fellow college teacher
who once preached how satisfying it can be
to shape young minds, how molding their views
was perhaps teaching’s most rewarding feature.

But for years something deep inside him
was growing, gnawing, starting to burn –
a sense of unfulfillment had made dim
his guiding light. He had begun to yearn
to be able to verify the value of his efforts.

He dabbled in wood working, took up painting…
but then came the day he put his hands to clay
and molded his first pot – a potter was in the making.
His love for pottery was instantaneous, grew unabated.
He ‘threw’ pots, bowls, mugs, something new each day.

Within two years he left teaching to become a potter
who sold his wares far and near. He sacrificed money;
he sacrificed prestige, but his inner light burned hotter
than in many a year. His disposition again grew sunny.
Encountering him years later, I sought the explanation.

“Harry, it is holding in my hands the tangible proof
of my ability to have an effect that now fulfills my soul.
I can hold a thing of beauty, a piece of art in my hand,
feel its shape, admire its color, and know, truth be told,
this object exists only because, upon imagining it, I can
bring it alive. From doubts of self-worth, I remain aloof.”

I understood. In this generation of paper-pushers, information
movers, computer programmers, to hold something of worth
made by your own hands is a rare pleasure, instant gratification;
it satisfies the desire for accomplishment imbued in Man from birth.

Harry Edward Gilleland      06.23.03    printer friendly