One of my favorite movies, Breaking Away has come to mean more and more to me as the years go by. Maybe it’s because it’s one of the first films wherein I “got” the message the first time I watched it, but there was lots I missed too. I’ve picked up new insights and appreciation with every re-watching.
In my later years one of the messages I’ve appreciated most is in the scene where father and son (played by Paul Dooley and Dennis Christopher) are walking through the halls of Indiana State University and the father is reflecting (like the lower class Zoramites in Alma 32) how it was okay for the local workmen (known as “Cutters”) to quarry and cut the limestone that built the buildings, but now he feels he doesn’t belong on the campus:
“I was proud of my work. And the buildings went up. When they were finished the damnedest thing happened. It was like the buildings were too good for us. Nobody told us that. It just felt uncomfortable, that’s all.”
Maybe this cinema-memory doesn’t apply to what I’m thinking about, but it connected itself in my mind.
I often think I make a better “maker” than “user.” For instance, I do nice work. I’m careful and concise and fairly slow at what I do, but the finished product is almost always sturdy and nice-looking. So nice, in fact, that I am loath to use it. I can make a nice artist’s journal, but my artwork doesn’t do it justice. I can make nice crocheted items, quilts, clothing, even clean my house really well, but I’ve given a lot of that up because the idea of using the finished product feels “uncomfortable”–like the work is not for me.
I’m not trying to say I’m unworthy. What am I trying to say? I guess I’m asking myself questions about the feasibility of pursuing imperfection. I haven’t succeeded at anything yet.
I’m not saying that I’m giving up either. Just asking questions.
Is it better to spend my life and energy walking dogs, cleaning the backyard, and vacuuming? I don’t have the capacity to do everything I need to do. Some of my quality of life is sacrificed in pursuit of writing. I suppose there are others who are spending their lives pursuing things they’d rather not be doing, to a certain extent (like earning a living). So, even though I have the choice to pursue the perfectly clean back yard, the nine-mile dog walk in arctic temperatures, or my writing career, I guess I will join the throng and sacrifice.