The big red ball was in the middle of Eddie’s parking lot. Fortunately it was a pretty big lot. There was heavy traffic in and out of Eddie’s place. A number of large trucks and other vehicles were forced to maneuver around it.
Soon everyone adapted to the situation and life went on.
I live pretty close to Eddie’s so I found myself visiting the big red ball almost daily.
In many ways it seemed to fit in where it had landed.
I tried to get Eddie to consider painting a sign on it or maybe just change the name of his place to “Eddie’s Big Red Ball” I was prepared to sell him the ball at a very good price.
He wouldn’t go for it, however.
I think Eddie must be a purist and it offended his aesthetic sensibilities to look out and see the ball there.
A month went by….then another month…and I began to feel bad about the situation and started to actively seek a remedy.
Nothing seemed to pan out, however.
Then in the third month we were fortunate that another disaster struck close by.
A large crane was needed to dismantle a damaged structure and Eddie was hired to rebuild it.
So all I had to do was schedule (and pay for) an extra half hour to move the ball.
“Things have a way of working out,” I told myself and I met the crane operator early on a Tuesday morning.
Eddie and his father Bruce both agreed that I could leave the ball on a small patch of land just west of the parking lot.
“It will really look nice there,” I assured Eddie, but he was on to worrying about the crater that would be left behind once we moved the ball.
There was no problem moving the ball, (it was after all a huge crane) but since the ball was a good deal heavier than we anticipated, the crane operator was extra careful, and it took more than the half hour I had agreed on to move it.
I began to calculate what it would cost to move the ball just to work on it.
I would also need to transport it and install it every time I showed the sculpture, and this was going to really add up.
While a crane and an operator are cheaper than a lawyer, they are not that much cheaper.
So if I were to pursue this idea and not go broke I would need to be extra careful.
Once the big red ball was in place on its small sandy island west of the parking lot, the thought occurred to me that this was an opportune time to get a big commission which would utilize the ball, or perhaps find a patron who was particularly fond of heavy red balls.
“This thing is not moving again any time soon“ I said to myself and I was right.
It remained right there on Eddie’s island for a good two and a half years waiting for something good to happen.
Once again the ugly hand of reality had reached out and tossed my wonderful ideas (and me) aside.
“This has happened before” I thought. In fact it happens all the damn time.
Why is it that so much of life seems to repeat forever like a scratched record or is it a stuck CD ?
Nothing ever gets resolved ….we just get to do the same things again and again.
Over the years I have fought many battles with reality and while I know I have won some of these battles, I always seem to lose the war.
I picked up a hammer at a very early age.
One of the first things I ever built was a boat. I say it was a boat as that is what I intended it to be.
What it really was is still open for debate …..and “boat” is just a figure of speech anyway.
I have found that the area between what one intends and what one achieves is often the size of the Sahara.
It is hard to remember how old I was but I must have been capable of driving nails as the thing I built had at least 75 lbs of nails driven into it.
Either that or I had used over weight wood. The thing was particularly heavy.
I do not think it had a bow or a stern, a port or a starboard.
It might have lacked a top and a bottom as well.
But things are what we tell ourselves they are.
I have known a “good” investment or two that any reasonable person would not be caught dead with,
but for a time they were “good “ investments because that’s what I believed them to be.Only later did I come to question my assumptions.
I guess my point is that the objective reality of today is likely to become the “puff of smoke” of tomorrow.
I convinced myself that I was building a boat, although unlike Noah, God had not provided the plans and I had to wing it.
Seeing as how I was convinced it was a boat, my parents felt obligated to lift it into the green station wagon and to haul it to a nearby lake.
As I remember it, it took my mother, my father and 3 or 4 muscular neighbors to move it.
With this act my mother had at last found her calling....
and from then until she was well into her 70s I employed her as a pack mule when it came my art.
The scene at the lake was a bit of a disappointment. Not a hint of flotation could be found in my boat.
The craft was drug into shallow water and mud at the edge of the lake and eventually abandoned there. Before that occurred however, my brother and sister and I danced about on the heavy beast for a few minutes, watching I am sure for protruding nails.
Was this what failure tastes like?
Convincing myself was easy but convincing the lake that I had built a boat was much too difficult to even contemplate.
As we drove away in the green station wagon I could see both the structure of my dreams and the cruel reality…
There was a bewildering finality to the boat’s watery death.
Later that night all was forgiven, and the fact that the boat acted nothing like a boat seemed not to matter any more.
Though reality may have pinned me down, I had at least wrestled with it, and that would have to be enough.
Night does soften the edges and makes our failures tolerable.
Perhaps it is that the night is the birthplace of all our dreams: those that come true, and those that don’t.
Somewhere deep inside I had built a boat
and I had made a voyage, maybe to another shore,
if only in my mind…..
and that would have to be enough.
to be continued