Hot on the heels of Day 97, as well as stealing a line from Monty Python:
And now for something completely different.
I admire competence. But I love the level of competence that makes the result a work of art, no matter whether it’s usually called art or not.
There is joy in doing a thing well, no matter how mundane it might be. “Hey, now, I just mopped the floor and it shines like it’s brand new!” (Considering how much I hate to mop, that’s an accomplishment. 😉 ) Assembling furniture. Rewiring a lamp. Making a cheesecake. Hell, getting the laundry put away. But that’s my own stuff. I mean other people’s competencies.
A checkout person or bagger at the grocery store who can minimize the number of bags without putting the bread or the eggs on the bottom and dropping a cantaloupe on top, or making the bags too heavy to carry. A server who is attentive without hovering and doesn’t disappear right when I need to pay the check in order to catch my bus. A handyman/plumber/repair person who not only does the job correctly the first time, but cleans up their work area because they think it’s just the courteous, professional thing to do.
And yes, people in the arts who leave basic competence in the dust and give us something to treasure forever.
You’d think that was a given, wouldn’t you, especially for artists of whatever stripe in the public eye — and yet I’ve heard famous opera singers give performances that aren’t just “oh, having a bad day, everyone does”, but sloppy and lackadaisical to the point I wondered why they bothered to perform that day at all. I know enough about vocal music to know that so-and-so famous singer’s vocal technique is crap and am left wondering whether I’m super-critical or the rest of this person’s paying audience isn’t critical enough.
There are certain famous writers whose fame escapes me, not as a matter of taste (although there are a plethora of writers I just can’t read because their choice of story doesn’t interest me. I figure that’s fair; it’s hard to please everyone all the time, and no one should have to), but from the perspective of “their writing is barely competent from a craft standpoint, let alone the plot holes and pedestrian characters”. But they’re famous, and wealthy, so maybe it’s a case of what do I know?
I am incredibly lucky to have friends in the arts who outstrip basic competence by leaps and bounds. By all rights, they should be famous. But they aren’t. Or not yet. I keep my fingers crossed and send up the good mojo, because these are people who have already earned it. They aren’t perfect (sorry, friends 😉 ) but no one is, and again, no one should have to be. And I think perfection is overrated anyway, since it automatically precludes anything better — if it’s perfect, and it changes, well, it isn’t perfect anymore, is it? “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Or really, the great. But they do their best to be as close to perfect for their respective audiences (including collectors of art along with listeners to music).
And oh, how very grateful I am to have them in my life. 🙂