I must admit to a guilty pleasure: Project Runway. I came across this show while staying on Kauai for two weeks back in 2006; by now I have watched all of the episodes on Netflix. Season 10 ended last week, and tonight begins Project Runway All-Stars. Ironically, I couldn’t care less about fashion, which basically strikes me as frivolous. I watch the show because of the issue of creativity: In each episode the designers are given a challenge which employs a limited amount of money and time to accomplish the challenge. I am fascinated and excited by watching the ways in which various designers take the challenge and bring something beautiful out of it, even when, as happened in one episode, the designers were taken to a Garden Shop and told that they had to use only items in the shop to construct their garment.
Whether or not we make things, creativity is essential for anyone who wants to experience being happily alive and present to the blank canvas of each new day. For some people, however, being present to each day is not as simple a matter as deciding what color shirt to wear; in fact, being present to the day is not what they want at all. Some, through various addictions, numb themselves to the present in order to not feel anxiety, depression, despair, or anything that is distressing.
Our culture, in general, encourages us to not be present, offering us almost unlimited ways of distracting ourselves. The truck driver going down the street almost runs over the woman who steps off of the sidewalk because he is lost in his cell-phone conversation; the woman steps off of the sidewalk because she is texting while walking and has become completely oblivious to any reality outside of the little letters on the little screen in front of her.
A friend recently said to me, “Lately, I’ve been missing God.” Almost immediately his eyes widened in shock as he realized that, actually, he hasn’t been talking with God for a long time. What he suddenly realized is that it’s not been God who has been absent; it is my friend who hasn’t been present!
How many ways do we have of not being present to others? While someone is talking with us we are thinking of something or somewhere else. Focusing upon the future so intently we neglect today’s demands for cleanliness, laundry, and food shopping. We hold ourselves back from being honest in a relationship. We work so hard at not being present that it is no wonder so many feel lost!
Each day is like Project Runway. It brings us to the Garden Shop and tells us: Make something out of this! Are you present to today’s challenge?