Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The daily card, week 46

On tap this week: stamping with wine, finding pattern in Arabic script, obsessed with Hamilton, finished reading Essentialism, wondering when you can appropriately wear bras that show through your clothing, trying not to freak out, and the phrase that captures this year better than any other.

That phrase is from Life of Pi, in which Pi is stranded on a lifeboat with a lot of tiger and very few supplies. He finds a water can but, sans can opener, has to use a tarpaulin hook to open it: "Holding the can with both my hands, I sharply brought it up against the hook. A good dint. I did it again. Another dint next to the first. By dint of dinting, I managed the trick."

I read the book over a decade ago, but I still think of that phrase. For a long time it was just for the clever wordplay - and now also because it so perfectly captures a year of daily creativity and small, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other steps forward.

In high school, I was a bit of a procrastinator, prone to putting things off to the last minute and then writing papers in a burst of inspiration over the course of a late night. (I once faked a semester's worth of prayer journal entries in an afternoon.) It was stressful, but I did well, so I never had incentive to change my ways to embrace the slow-and-steady.

But most everything worthwhile I have done in my adult life has been by dint of dinting. I am not a great athlete, but I have become a runner by dint of dinting. I have been dinting at strengthening my writing basically since I was literate. Until the day when I get tapped to jump ten salary bands and run my organization, I will keep dinting at building competence and expertise in my job. And this whole year-long endeavor - making daily small-scale art - has been a way of dinting at becoming a creative person.

That phrase is immensely encouraging to me - we often don't immediately see the impact of our efforts, we just need to dint, dint, dint.

As a creative challenge, I am decorating a playing card every day in 2015. More context on this project is here and you can see all past card posts here.

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