What motivates

A girl walks up to a construction site and asks the first man she sees, “Excuse me, what are you doing?” And he says, “Oh, can’t you see I’m laying bricks?” She then walks up to the second man she sees, who is doing the exact same thing the first one was doing, and says, “Excuse me, what are you doing?” And he says, “Oh, can’t you see I’m building a wall?” And then she reaches the third man, who is doing the same thing as the previous two, and she says, “Excuse me, what are you doing?” And he says, “Oh, can’t you see I’m building a temple?” A fable as told by Sarah Kay

What do we think we are doing, making art, throwing pots? Is that like laying bricks? Yes, perhaps it is. But why are we doing it? Is that like building temples? Yes, perhaps it is.

Twelfth-century temple brickwork, Ayutthaya, Thailand

Twelfth-century temple brickwork, Ayutthaya, Thailand

Is what motivates us a bigger picture or a smaller? There is no right answer, just the reasons we give ourselves and others for doing what we do. But the reasons matter, because if we are building temples we may not be as interested in building mundane huts. If we are building walls we may not be as inclined to build bridges. And if we are simply laying bricks we may not really be interested in what it is we are building.

Its not just what we are doing that matters, but why we do it. The why is the door we walk through to start our doing. Some doors are incredibly wide, and others are almost too narrow to fit through. Some doors lead to immense possibility and others to tiny cells. How big is your door? Where all does it lead? How happy are you walking through it? These are all important questions.

Stuff to think about 🙂

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!


About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
This entry was posted in Art, Beauty, Creative industry, Creativity, Imagination, metacognition, Pottery. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What motivates

  1. Scott Cooper says:

    Very good, CG. I really like “the why is the door”.

    And that photo — holy crap! I’m here just trying to contend with a small eight foot stack of bricks, and that… the things people do when they make up their minds to do something big is astounding.

  2. Very nice post Carter. It is so important to recognize that our perception of what we are doing effects what we do. Only this way can we be open to other possible ways of doing.

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