Bob Lieberman's Blog

Commentary and Tools For Empowering Change

Appreciation Is Bigger Than You Think

The creative activity Appreciation sounds like a congratulations and a celebration, but that is too narrow an interpretation. It really includes all aspects of appreciating what you have done, its effect on the world and on you. If you have made an error or caused problems, that must be appreciated too. Appreciation permits you to develop the perspective and closure that drives the creative process cleanly through the circle. Here's an excerpt from Wendell Berry's book A Place On Earth that I think sums this up nicely:

Mat (the father) is speaking about Virgil (his son)...

My daddy hurt some of these hillsides badly in his time. Made some bad mistakes. I tried to learn from his, and went right on and made some bad ones of my own. Anyhow, Virgil broke his ground farther over the brow of the hill than he should have. Like a boy, you know. Didn't stop in time. But he got his rows laid off about right, and got his crop out – and I didn't say anything, hoping he'd have luck and get that mistake free. Thought I'd show hijm later what he'd done wrong, soon as I could do it without hurting his feelings.

But there was an awful rain one night after his crop had been out, I guess, two weeks. I heard it begin and lay awake listening to it, knowing what was bound to be happening. And the next morning I said, "Let's go look at your crop." So we went and walked all the way around it. It was hurt. Bound to have been. There’s no way to plow sideling ground so it’ll hold in a rain like that. “Virgil,” I said, “this is your fault. This is one of your contributions to the world.” That was hard for me to say. And he took it hard. I saw he was about to cry. And bad as I hated to do it, I let it work in him while we stood there and looked. I knew he was hating the day he ever thought of raising a crop, ready to give up. Finally I put my arm around him and I said, "Be sorry, but don't quit. What's asked of you now is to see what you've done, and learn better." And I told him that a man's life is always dealing with permanance – that the most dangerous kind of irresponsibility is to think of your doings as temporary. That, anyhow, is what I've tried to keep before myself. What you do on the earth, the earth makes permanent.