Covid-19 is a moment in time

After Some Time, a sudden realization has dawned on humanity: We are all 1.

The term ‘after some time’ can be understood as the few hours or days that have passed since my country or yours have shut down their borders.

The term ‘after some time’ can be understood as the few years since technology allowed us to connect so broadly, immediately and personally with each other.

It can also be understood as the decades and centuries of innovation that brought humanity to act as one in its effort to control the spread of a virus. Not the deadliest one we’ve ever known, which is possibly our luck this time.

An anchor for exercise bands.

After finishing the reading of Walter Isaacson’s ‘The Innovators‘, I moved on to ‘Never Split the Difference’ by Chris Voss. This transition follows me as I am working part of the week at BCIT on a project involving a team, that is spread around the world. I am also working in Arkit, where we deliver a service that involves both technology and human interaction; in other words – tools and support.

We are in the midst of a fascinating process where no one knows exactly where it takes us, yet everyone feels its impact.

For quite a while I’ve been using communication tools that evolve constantly. I’m not the only one in the world who is doing so. My mom, owned a dial phone after waiting for it a few years, back in the days when you had to order a line and wait. Now, she’s using a remote control for her TV, a cell phone and a tablet. My co-workers are all with me in mumbling a few words before the internet based conference call allows all of us to see and hear each other clearly. We still remind each other to either un-mute or even mute our own side.

Now, the quick move all over the world to home-based-work wherever you can, expands the reality described above to almost all of us.

The Covid-19 is just non-deadly enough to keep us cooperating; it is however deadly enough to shed light, for the purposes of this moment, on two insights: 1. when people are afraid for their lives they are capable of extraordinary feats. 2. we have systems that work.

Our systems always need updating. Our systems are not perfect. Some of them might even be broken.

But we are all 1.

No one in the world, to the best of my knowledge, expressed a need to let the Covid-19 kill its way through society. And even if anyone did, their voices do not have the right vibes to reach far enough. What one can notice while moving outdoors or connecting indoors, is a quest for life.

People want to survive.

We as a species, are already cooperating to heal from the spread of one disease in the short term. In the long run, our systems require a lot more attention. Hopefully, we will keep our cooperation going so that our broken systems can be fixed.

It is a fascinating process.

My Little BayCrest

A few words from within an ongoing process of exploring ideas, fabric art and functional skills.

When I want to properly refer to Mintage, I’m still in search of words. This clothing and fashion accessories boutique has been open since 2005. I peeked in once and kept away for a few years.

Mintage is located on 1714 Commercial Dr . Vancouver, BC

A few years ago, out of curiosity, I actually stepped in. It has a large quilt framed on one of its walls. Other than that, it was obvious there was nothing for me there to even consider looking at, let alone buying. I was curious about the quilt though, not for buying of course, just about it. Turns out it was made by the owner’s mom. This is a lovely piece of fabric art, made of what looks like a random assortment of off-cuts. Not your typical, painstakingly surgical pattern of fabrics made into a wedding gift. I appreciate quilts a lot. However, they usually give me a sense of… well,… I never ever would have interest in one of them hanging on my wall. I do appreciate them a lot though. The one in Mintage inspired me.

The whole space has the unmistakable aura of a well thought of, lovingly cared for shopping destination.

As much as the inventory at Mintage looked like costumes from B movies to me, I was still curious to browse through it a bit. On one of the racks of shirts, my eyes got a glimpse of an odd item. “What tha hell?!” was my first reaction. The one and only time I had some liking for a denim jacket is long forgotten in my teenage years. Plaid too, is one style I wish we could see less of in the streets. I had some of my own, but please, let’s just forget about it, OK? OK, what on earth is this thing?! Almost half denim, half plaid – this crazy piece of wild west clothing beast includes a third type of fabric. A shiny red strip of fake glamour is integrated into its sleeves and other parts.

I lifted the shirt out with its hanger. I wanted to get a better view of it. I wanted to imagine who might be the person who’d be willing to pay for such a thing. New, it couldn’t have been cheap, that’s for sure. Someone was taking this design pretty seriously. Since I was already holding it in front of me, I noticed it had missing buttons in both cuffs. And they were hoping to sell it?! Oh, well.

And what is it here!? In one of the sleeves there was a small hole, obviously not part of the original design, something that looked as if a cigarette burned through the fabric. But wait, that was not all. A designated piece of partly printed, partly embroidered fabric was sewn to the box-plate (what I might call buttons-band). Really! This was making no sense. And you might guess that it wasn’t long until I tried it on. 

Missing cuff buttons? Embarrassing “cigarette” hole? That was my first Mintage purchase.

When I asked about the missing buttons, the young woman at the cashier brought a large jar made of glass and empties it on the counter. Of the hundreds of buttons, I managed to choose the ones that I later added to the cuffs on my own at home.

For the cigarette hole, I took an old piece of fabric from a discarded pair of pants and made a patch to cover it. My sewing skills were so bad at the time that the patch looked as if it was part of the original design.

Then I realized that the two chest pockets were a bit saggy. So, I added two more buttons of my own to this DIY, rebranded fashion declaration.

Notice that small patch of delicately striped red fabric on the cuff.

Since that first purchase I occasionally stepped in again to Mintage. I kept coming back to that rack, hoping to catch a glimpse of yet another oddball shirt. The quilt on the wall was still there. The shirts on the rack, however, returned to being the typical dreary second hand items worthy of B-Movies. The same sense of “What tha hell am I doing here!?” returned to the comics bubble above my head.

And yet, among the bizarre, there sometimes happens to reside a perfectly old fashioned, insanely mundane item: a regular, yet high quality shirt that would probably cost over $200 anywhere else. Would I want this one if it cost only $24? Sure, why not. That was my second Mintage purchase.

Meanwhile, my pile of discarded old jeans was growing steadily. In most of them the zipper stopped functioning. Replacing a zipper these days, apart from being a slightly time consuming affair, is quite a breeze for me. At the time, I knew that eventually I will need to take a course somewhere to bring my sewing to the desired level of freedom. But I didn’t want to throw the broken zippered items yet, however much I couldn’t really use them anymore. However, I could turn them into something else. Not necessarily a king size blanket such as the Mintage piece of art, but something. Something simple, like a tote bag…

I’ve already purchased a nice looking tote bag – lining and all – some years before plunging into this adventure. I even bothered to fix it here and there when it started to fall apart. So I had a reference for how my quilted tote bag should be made. Who cares how bad my sewing skills would be in making this one.

Then came our visit to New York in 2016. I was sitting on our hosts’ window ledge, enjoying the space, the conversations and the time off from home in Vancouver. Without thinking much, I measured the size of the surface I was sitting on. I knew that when we get back home I will make a pillow case to fit that recess. The measurements were made with the palm of my hand. This was obviously going to be a surprise. And when I sent the complete item to our friends, I was informed that it fit perfectly.

I was always frustrated by the results of my haphazard sewing habits. There were mostly long gaps of time between the need to mend a pair of pants or adding a zipper to a duvet cover. Until the tote bag and window ledge pillow case, there weren’t any projects I committed to engage in. This meant that every time I sat down to use the machine, I had to struggle with leading the thread in the right path. Until I did that, of course, whatever I tried to do ended up in a mess. So what better way to keep my practice alive if not by trying to make a shirt? A front buttoned shirt, that is.

Well, I’m a designer. I can trace a pattern from an existing shirt, can’t I? Well, I’m a designer. That doesn’t make me a seamster, nor a tailor. But, y’know, I’m not afraid to try and trace a pattern. And that’s what I did. And the result, although seemed to have taken ages, was made in a matter of a few weeks in the winter of early 2017.

My first buttoned shirt and not my first quilt.

Then, in April of that year, I got a job that made me pleased with celebrating in a clothing purchase. Incidentally, one of my Israeli nieces started her army service at that time. Back to Commercial Drive in Vancouver, I was facing the familiar reality of the stuffy air of Mintage. “What am I doing here?!” floated above my head like a comics balloon again. But wait!

My Israeli niece, army, camouflage… Perfect. I’m taking this.

Homage to a newly recruited soldier niece.

In late 2018 I resigned from my job mentioned above. I was feeling empowered. Where can you find a decently priced, unobtrusively wacky, strangely normal shirt if not in Mintage. With four unique items on my home rack, I can probably be called a steady client.

However, my reluctantly curious shopping adventures haven’t deterred me from looking for sewing opportunities. OK, my collection of shorts is also growing worn out a bit. This was a worthy challenge for my pattern tracing practice. In my most recent spree, I (finally) found out that my sewing machine had a foot specifically suited for sewing zippers. Yey!

My second pair of sewn from scratch shorts.


Failure is a moment of beauty.

I actually said this to a friend one day.

The crash into the abandoned car revealed itself to me in slow motion. A fraction of a second is all it took from the moment I realized I was about to crash and my car’s front right corner bending into the back of the other. Then my car swept in a half circle into the middle of the highway. I remember not knowing exactly what to do. I remember flooring the clutch and releasing the gear; letting go of the brake pedal until I felt the car just coasting backwards; gently braking to a stand-still; applying the handbrake; assessing what is happening on the highway.

Then the sense of failure washed over me.

But there wasn’t much time to stay in that moment. People who saw me crashing rushed from their cars to my help. Apart from my left hand that hurt slightly, nothing had happened to me. I stepped out of my car with a guy guiding me to the side of the road. I asked him if he could bring my bag that was still on the passenger seat. In it were my wallet and some documents. Someone called for an ambulance. It was around 3 am.

My concern was to manage getting back home on time to walk my dog. Hardly anything happened to me really. I was alive and ready to continue my day. As soon as I was released from hospital, the sense of a new life swept my senses.

It was a beautiful day.

I expect people to be interested in what they are doing. Whatever others expect is different for each and every one of us. The process we go through starts as soon as we meet. Exploring expectations sets the tone of the process. There might not be any promise of success – and failure is never an aim. The reality of working in groups is one of expectations.

I was working in a landscape architecture office. My experience as an industrial designer allowed me to integrate into the workflow in a way that was both challenging and satisfying. Many projects passed beside me without being involved in them personally. I was partially intrigued, partially appalled to notice how often the dysfunctional communications of the team nurtured frustrations that could have been avoided.

It was an intense learning process for me. I tried to learn from my mistakes too. The sense of failure was always in the air. However, some of the failures were painfully simple to avoid.

Thanks to my unintentional position of the outsider I could see other possibilities. I couldn’t say these possibilities would have necessarily worked. But I saw the possibilities, where others accepted failure as a reality to live with.

The moment of failure has a very short lifespan in me. My mind quickly switches to simple questions: what have I learned from this? What can I do next?

Failure, as much as it can be painful, presents us with opportunity.

In opportunity, I’m sure, you too can see beauty.

Your comments are always welcome. If you want to get notified of new posts, click the ‘Follow by Clicking Here’ block. The design named Jump can be purchased in a variety of platforms:

The Now Moment

Are you reading now or, maybe now the reading is you?

Count on the moment to come

I had breakfast, I am proofreading and if it’s not over yet, the race is just about to be over. The posts that make this story, generate expectations. If you are reading this, your reality is directed into a story. Now, it’s your own. What will unfold, can still serve more than just the future. The story from the past, informs my thoughts and process. And so, a network of influences constantly affects my moment. In turn, the future becomes my moment too. Are you there with me?

My mind is a generator of content. My body is the tool to deliver this content into action.

Yohanan Stern walking in the dunes of Nitsanim Reserve in Israel, 2013

In 2016 I worked with my family on a memory book. The intention was to have it ready for my father’s year since passing. Each of my family members had their own approach to the idea of having this book made. Being the only member of my family living away from Israel, this project was a fascinating opportunity for me. Every step of the way was more than just one milestone. Our story is one of past, future and the moment. The resulting book reflected that beautifully.

I was inspired to take that experience and implement my insights from it into everything I do. But I realized as well, that my insights – even before the memory book – have been consistently similar.

My work is a journey to connect with people.

Every person has their own past, future and moment.

Our connection takes us through a journey that starts in a moment.

A heron in Lost Lagoon spreading its wings, possibly to heat up in the morning sun.

In joining the run to support Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House (MPNH), I enjoy the process as much as the questions that it raises. Along the way, the story unfolds: I wonder if my fitness is improving at all; I am inspired by engagements with people; I experience the pieces of my story coming to life.

Now I only have to stretch and run. Thank you for your interest and support.

This is the final in a series of posts I’ve shared prior to the event on June 23. If you are interested in my story, feel free to comment and follow this blog to get alerts when new posts are published. The whole series can be read in one piece here.

Technology, Design and Thinking

I’ve always enjoyed the sensations relating to hard physical work. At times my routines brought me to peaks of fitness. Other times I was injured and couldn’t keep up with the level of activity I aspired to. So, achievements in how many pull ups I managed or how far I could run, were always a side-note for me. Routine hard physical work pushes me to a level of focus that translates into my other engagements in life: Design, Technology and Thinking. How available my body will be to participate in my mental maintenance is clearly uncertain. This plays a significant part in my decision (if there ever was one) to avoiding professional sports.

Life can be simple, yet calculated.

However, in working out for the 5 Km event on June 23rd, I am benefiting from some interesting technology. Even before heading out, I can plan my course on my computer. Either Google maps or other web tools provide information such as distance, elevations and more. In order to select a proper running shoe, I browsed through some websites and got lost in more information I could handle. I even got some training plans to ease my way into a healthy progress. 

I can hardly buy simple shoes anymore, that’s for sure. No complaint here. The structure of shoes allows my running to be cushioned enough to avoid shock, yet braced in the right spots to keep my joints in place.

I took my cell phone with me occasionally to measure times and track my course. Recently I decided to try a fitness watch. Just like cell phones, I am browsing through it to find the features that really interest me. One day I might even create my own app for it. There’s still so much to explore before the optimum interface of a fitness watch will fit the needs of a majority of users. Product personalization means that we might never reach that optimum. Do we really have such elaborate needs?

Intermediate training plan for a 5 Km run.

Does running for a cause make my running different? As long as my body cooperates I try to provide it with opportunities for movement. Staying physically active in turn, nurtures my other interests and vocations. I see the connections in life in a pretty broad view. I could say that everything is connected, even if not always as a reflection of cause and effect. I definitely refrain from assigning values to what I can see as connections. So the cause is one part of my run and other parts are there whether I invest in them or not.

I’m practicing my writing skills; I’m engaging on a personal level with people I see only occasionally; and I’m developing new concepts for programs, services and products. I would have done all of these without the race. But as stated above, the level of focus I reach, benefits my other engagements. Contributing to the case of Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House (MPNH), is an opportunity for me to do more for myself as well.

Achievements, Results, Finish Line: Process is at the core of it all.

Design is a way of planning. I realized a long time ago that no matter what I do in life, I am a designer. So the race is a component within a complex, yet straightforward network of stories that make my life. The more I think of it, it makes sense to me. Design is a Matter of Life.

This is the fifth in a series of posts I’ve shared prior to the event on June 23. If you are interested in stories like this, click “Follow by Clicking Here”, on the right side bar. The whole series can be read in one piece here.

Mom and Pop Shops anyone?

In many of my visits to community consultations, I heard the desire for mom and pop shops. This, in light of the impossible hikes in rent, seemed to me like one of those paradoxes that lie in the platform of community consultations. City staff are honestly interested in hearing what residents want. Residents honestly share their interests.

Then property owners, especially owners of ones in desirable areas, raise the rent.

Terasen invested in transforming some crosswalks along Commercial Drive into Italian themed artwork.

Can mom and pop shops survive the scale of development and gentrification of a city? Typically, such venues are more expensive than your 5-minutes-drive-away Safeway or even cross-the-street “Medium Scale Neighborhood Market”. These chains have much more variety and the convenience of… anonymity. Yeah, some of us still yearn for mom and pop shops.

I’ve been shopping along Commercial drive for roughly 15 years now. What was called The First Ravioli Store is now Easy Shop. With the significant change of ownership and inventory, we still find our fresh pasta and favorite cheese there. Many mom and pop shops are really a sad and tired corner in retail streets. Typically their operators/owners struggle to make ends meet. After First Ravioli changed hands some years ago, I was impressed to see the efforts the new owner took to revitalize the space. And still, in a quickly changing street like Commercial drive, this corner store always seems to be at least one step behind. Jawid, the friendly owner of Easy Shop removed the sliced meats we occasionally got at First Ravioli. We still find our fresh pasta and favorite cheese there.

Another component in the Terasen street touch ups.

If you had to grade my enthusiasm with mom and pop shops, I’m probably on the lower side of the scale. But the community consultations I went to, made me curious to see what it really means for me to support this strange little beast.

At one point, early in his time there, I shared with Jawid a personal thought. That, to my surprise, made him grateful for my insight and generosity.

A few months later I shared with him my concern with finding the same cheese we were buying from him, significantly cheaper somewhere else. Before doing that I was struggling whether to bother talking with Jawid about the issue or not. He thanked me profusely and the next week – lo and behold – informed me that he talked with his supplier. We could continue buying our favorite cheese at Easy Shop.

Now, as part of my experiment in fundraising, I am handing my notes in places I visit. I casually approach people I know and share with them my call for support. Without expecting much, what drives me in this is a simple thought: If I don’t ask, how will people know?

The canopy, the cash register at Easy Shop and the link to my fundraising page:

Jawid, is the first shop owner I shared my fundraising run with. On my visit there today, my note was proudly posted on the cash machine. That was so heartwarming. I asked him if I could take some photos and promised to post them on my social platforms.

Mom and Pop Shops anyone?

This is the fourth in a series of posts I’ve shared prior to the event on June 23. If you are interested in  stories like this, click “Follow by Clicking Here”, on the right side bar. The whole series can be read in one piece here.

Mental Core

There is a mental effort whether running on a treadmill or outdoors. The difference between the two is noticeable. But in both cases, whenever I run, the mental challenge exists. Here’s a useful mantra for myself: “There’s always a good reason; there’s never a good excuse.”

Some gravel, some paved, the Champlain Heights trail is one in many options.

The course of the Scotia Bank Vancouver race has a combination of paving and gravel. To practice for the race I wanted to do some of my runs in similar conditions in my neighborhood. The pathways beside Champlain Heights Community Center provide a good match. In recent months we’ve been going to the Champlain Heights gym almost exclusively. It was really nice to do a combined outdoors-indoors training recently.

Another good training venue is Trout Lake Park (John Hendry). One of its paths is about 1300 M long. Last year I ran there a few times. Then Killarney Park has a 400 M track that is great for working on my pacing. I’ve already done more than 5 KM outdoor runs. It wasn’t easy. I need to be ready for more.

In the highly visited course around Trout Lake, I can practice some chasing of other runners.

My inspiration comes in many forms. Watching Mo Farah win both the 10,000 M and 5,000 M races in two successive Olympics is good for boredom reduction on the treadmill. However, along the trails in a park I need something else to keep me going. The fresh air is one of the best incentives to run outside. The actual movement on real ground is another best. But my head, alas, is working against me occasionally. “OK, just one more round. I can’t do more than that today.” So easy to fall for that…

Boring yet useful, the 400 m track is great for pacing.

In the doc festival of last year I watched ‘Free Solo‘. This film follows Alex Honnold through his process of preparing for and eventually climbing the El Capitan rock without ropes. Just like I will never run as fast as any of the competitive runners, I will never climb anything the way a professional climber will. The act of climbing in itself is breathtaking. But, something else completely, was for me the core take away from watching the movie.

In order to make his climb, Alex had to prepare for every single move. Gradually, a mental image of the whole climb formed in his mind. What connects me so successfully to ‘Free Solo’ is my own attention to detail and perseverance. I came out of watching ‘Free Solo’ with a renewed sense of purpose. The phrase I’ve been using for quite a while now, keeps rolling: “Whatever you achieve is perfect. From there you can only improve.”

Alex Honnold writes down the day’s climbing event in his climbing journal. (National Geographic/Jimmy Chin)

In preparing for my 5 KM run, I am taking my mental core with me and putting it to the test. It’s not a huge task. My aim is to challenge myself to be my own best. Getting closer every day.

Expect a weekly post until the event on June 23. If you are interested in stories like this, click “Follow by Clicking Here”, on the right side bar. The whole series can be read in one piece here.

Making Connections

Does running at 10 Km/h make you breathless? For the longest time I never really worried about the numeric value of my speed. I’m reasonably quick, to be honest.

Then I started watching athletes chase each other at more than 20 Km/h. These antelope-like human beings, keep this pace until my eyeballs can handle it no longer. Eventually I get to watch the same videos more than once. I memorize names. I become inspired. There’s no way I will ever manage the speeds these athletes reach. However, I’m happy with my own progress even if my results stay the same.

London 2012 Olympics. (Daily Mail)

I’ve always tried to be active. Then a slight injury kept me back a bit, the weather was crappy and other excuses made me a little less active. Then I returned to walking or jogging. I am active. I always want to do more.

In recent years I had some uplifting experiences that are unrelated to each other. I guess my thought process allows me to make the connections work for me. Walking out with Anat, my wife for an hour each day, became a habit of ours. The dry summer of 2017 extended deep into winter. Then finally, by the end of November, the rain returned to Vancouver. The evening chill and increasing darkness were also factors in our decision to consider the gym. “Just for walking” I thought initially.

A month passed and the half hour increased to 45 minutes. Then one hour. A few minutes jogging here and there… Some months later and I was surprised to realize I can do a full hour of running. The videos I watched managed to relieve some of the inevitable boredom that creeps in while trying to keep in shape.

Then the weather improved and I took the opportunity to walk and run outside again. It’s much harder to run on a static surface than on the belt of a treadmill. There is a mental difference apart from the physical one.

But the race in June is outdoors (thankfully). On April of this year I got an email from Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House (MPNH). In it were a few lines talking about their team for the Scotia Bank Half Marathon and 5 Km Run. MPNH is among the various agencies I try to support. My preference is in contributing some time and insights. Donating money is a lesser priority for me.

So tying my ongoing physical training to a fundraising event, seemed like an interesting opportunity. Exploring new connections.

About half of the 5 Km long course is taken around Lost Lagoon

I’ve already walked the course of the race twice to get to know it. Soon I will make the trip to check the run. In the meantime I am running in my neighborhood, on the east side of Vancouver and nearby.

Expect a weekly post until the event on June 23. If you are interested in stories like this, click “Follow by Clicking Here”, on the right side bar. The whole series can be read in one piece here.

The Money and The Run

It’s interesting to fund raise.

Money is everywhere, but maybe not always where I might want it to be.

I have always admired people who engage in fundraising. My admiration comes from the impression that the act of convincing people to part with their money is a steep uphill battle. There are events you can see where the organizers managed to attract unbelievable sums. Then others stay in the realms of covering expenses at best. Most fundraising, as far as I can tell, is done as a volunteering act. Successful fundraising seems like a full time engagement.

Another part of my admiration stems from my own un-ease with trying to be in their position myself.

So when I decided to participate in the Scotia Bank Half Marathon and 5 Km Vancouver Run, I relieved myself from the stress of how much money I will manage to raise. It’s going to be a trial and error process. I will sweep through my mailing list and try to send as many calls to action as possible. There are people I know better than others in my mailing list.

However, I am in this for a cause that requires a very simple decision: donate or not. On the part of my prospect donors, the decision might be complicated by many considerations: one might have just sent money to a different cause; another might object to participating in fundraising; someone else could very well be excited to join!

So in my communications, I want to reflect the excited side of the decision. Reflecting back on people I’ve seen fundraising in the past I find connections in me to their traits: relentlessness; positivity; commitment. 

The section just north of the cycling tunnel that is the halfway of the 5 Km course.

When sending a call for donation to dozens of people, it’s my choice – not anyone else’s. I’m approaching it as an engagement similar to platonic love. All who receive my call are participating in this event whether you donate or not. For this I am grateful. I am inspired to move on.

Expect a weekly post until the event on June 23. If you are interested in stories like this, click “Follow by Clicking Here”, on the right side bar. The whole series can be read in one piece here.

Over The Top

Over The Top

The creative process can be treacherous. You enter it not always knowing what to expect. You might be content with whatever comes out of your hands. Then you gain some knowledge, insights and understanding. That change takes time. And more time can be invested in making more progress.

In my workshops I challenge people to be inspired. Back in 2010 I was brought in to work with Yoko Tomita, a community artist, to deliver mosaic making workshops. Various residents joined us in Collingwood Neighborhood House for two-hour sessions. One of them especially, demonstrated to me the creative process she and other people can go through when doing art. She had been working on laying tile fragments on a mesh spread with mortar.

In her first session she couldn’t tell the difference between large or small, light-green or dark-green, aligned tiles or scattered. Her aim was to complete her mosaic. There was an image she was trying to trace with the tile fragments. So if I called it a dolphin, you might guess what the tail was and where the head was pointing. Otherwise, it was pretty much a mess of broken tiles on the surface of her table. But gradually we encouraged her to take her time. Another week passed and her piece was not finished yet. She seemed to worry about that but we reassured her that in time her piece would be complete.

Then, as she was about to apply the last shreds of tile onto the mesh, she approached me. I was impressed with the beautifully detailed image of a dolphin surging out of the water. She expressed her frustration with how “not beautiful” her mosaic looked. I was surprised and a bit confused.

I was amazed to realize the leap she’d gone through. It seemed like she herself transformed from trying to please us (she called me “teacher”), to having expectations from herself. In the state she had started a few weeks before, those expectations were different.

Yes, within me, I agreed with her that she could have done a much better job of mosaic making. But no. The moment of awakening can be a fragile state in a person’s development.

When I heard my “student” express her frustration, I wasn’t sure exactly what to say. I only thought of what I did say some time later:

“Whatever you achieve is perfect. From there you can only improve.”

A few years passed and these words stayed with me. Sometimes they seemed like an amusing contradiction. Occasionally they inspired me to consider the concept of perfection. Maybe we all strive for perfection. And then, even if I feel very close, it’s just close. It’s never there. Yet what makes me continue is the sense of possibilities. If I miss a bus, it really depends on what my destination is, that would determine my solution.

If my mosaic is not perfect, I have to consider a different set of obligations before I start making a new one. What is a perfect mosaic anyway? At one point in time something might seem perfect and later we could all find faults in it. So what is fault?

As my encounters with people continue, I am intrigued by similarities and differences in human traits. In communications we seem to face daily challenges. Someone’s skills can be unintentionally regarded as faults. One day’s challenges will turn into opportunities shortly after. As I was contemplating the encounter in the mosaic making workshop, a shorter version crossed my mind. It is a different take on the same concept:

Being perfect is not my only fault.

A shirt with the above phrase can be purchased in a variety of platforms: