Tuesday, June 2, 2009

105/152 -Handicaps

Monday off.

The day 151 meditation starts with a remarkable quote from Helen Keller:

I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God.
For a fairly long time, I've understood the beneficial nature of handicaps in the arts.  One obvious example I think of is the gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt.  By all accounts he was a fairly mediocre guitarist traveling around Europe.  He got caught in a fire, and lost the use of his ring finger and pinky on his fretting hand.  Left with only two fingers, he invented and perfected his own technique, and became one of the very finest jazz musicians in history.  Without this "handicap," its likely that he would have remained in obscurity.

That's an extreme example.  Let me take a much more universal and mudane example. A photographer is limited to a flat image, ordinarily in a rectangular frame.  It's possible to think of the frame of the photograph as a limitation.  But its also possible, and much more worthwhile, to think of the limitation of the frame and what you can do with it, as being a defining part of the art.   In some ways, arts are defined by their limitations, and the great artist is the one who best uses those limitations.  The photographer makes the frame come alive. 

I like to think of this meditation as inviting us to approach life as an art of its own.  The idea is that if we embrace our limitations, and simply accept them, the way a great photographer embraces the frame, then we can transform the same limitations into advantages and opportunities.

1 comment:

Bosco said...

Duffy, you give really great insights into what Helen Keller said. One other thought occurs to me. So what if you have this or that problem or issue or limitation? Don't make up excuses. Be totally responsible for generating the quality of your own life. After all, that deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball!