Balance

Box for Maddy and Steve

I believe that the life is all about balance.  Time with family and friends balances career. Time spent resting balances work. Reaching out to others in need balances taking care of yourself. Creativity balances the routine. The Supreme Court balances zealots (sometimes…).

I value being able make things by hand that people appreciate and enjoy.  I also value working as a professor teaching students and discovering interesting things. My life is balanced when I have the time to do both of these things, as well as enjoy time with my family. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. My last post was on May 22, and since then I have had precious little time for my leatherwork (thus, a photo in this post of a box that I made last September for my daughter’s wedding).

“What have I been doing with all of my time”, you ask? Writing a grant proposal and papers, hosting a workshop, and presenting at a conference. All fun but no leatherwork. “But I always heard that writing grants isn’t fun”, you say. Well, maybe I’m just pathological, but I actually enjoy writing grants, providing there is balance in that as well.

It is easy to categorize art and craft as “creative” and “right brain” (whatever that means…). It is also easy to categorize science as “analytical”, “rational”, and “left brain”. I don’t accept these characterizations. Sure, reason and logic are often important in science, but I can assure you that I can’t make a decent thing out of leather without large amounts of reason and logic to figure out how to put something together, make it fit, and make it work right. Science gets really good when analytical logic and reason are balanced with creativity. So does art. The image of a kid wondering how many things live in a handful of dirt or what it looks like at the bottom of the ocean, what other life exists in the universe, or what infinity means is important to remember, especially in today’s world in which “importance” = “monetary  value” to so many people.

The grant that I just wrote with some great friends and collaborators focuses on how little worms use chemicals to talk to each other and to change their behavior with changes in the environment. Not too far from wondering about the handful of dirt! It took so much work (including lots of bona fide tedium…) that I really didn’t have enough time or energy in my life to make things out of leather or to post to this blog. Now that the grant proposal is done, the balance is slowly returning, and I can get back into the shop a bit more. Let’s hope that I can actually finish a few things before vacation next week!

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