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Diego Rivera: The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (1931)
"If we can't make this fun, they won't find it worthy."

The early effort seemed unfocused for it sought first to figure out what needed doing and in what particular order. I contend that there never was any orderly way to determine order. It's inherently messy business. One dabbles at first, poking here and prodding there until a rough order emerges. Some rework usually results, with luck, little, without, perhaps much. We have been inordinately fortunate on this refurbishment effort, which I take as a sign that we're engaged in a right and proper undertaking. It seems to me that if I'm engaging in right work, good fortune naturally accompanies me. Great good fortune, which characterizes what we've been experiencing, seems as if a blessing from The Gods or something. Little has discouraged us so far. It's been Kurt Our Painter and I, with me struggling to keep up with even our modest initial pace. Once Joel Our Floor Guy (he's actually a finish carpenter) arrived, our previously languorous pace exploded.

I'd noticed this same effect on many of the projects with which I'd once led and consulted.
They'd start slowly then explode. This rapid shift of pace seemed odd and out of place, as if something untoward just happened, always with a suggestion that someone must have been ineptly managing. I came to understand that this was a natural and Consequent expansion, the result of variance exploding as effort and dependencies expanded, not so much the problem it seems to be, but a feature of attempting to do something Consequent. Fool around and fall in love. Pick at a scab and produce a scar. Travel far enough from home and you'll have to stop traveling to eat, sleep, live. Beyond initial dabbling, efforts take on a life of their own. It's no longer someone choosing what to do next, dependencies come begging for urgent attention. Unforeseen connections make themselves known. Such convergences usually happen at some least convenient time. What you chased starts chasing you.

I think of this point as when the siphon finally gets started. After a period when nothing seemed terribly connected, when it did not matter whether I chose to paint doors or pull carpet, I suddenly see how both efforts were connected and how to prioritize each. Well, the activities seem to prioritize themselves. Yesterday, as Joel laid our new dining room and entryway flooring without a hitch, I saw that my decision to defer refinishing those baseboards in favor of reworking that pile of doors might have been a mistake, since the dining room suddenly seems ready for baseboards again. Likewise that dining room window, rework completion predicated upon a more complicated floor install, needs completion now, yesterday would have been better. I'm clearing my door queue and refocusing upon baseboards this morning. I'm grateful to acknowledge that my earlier dabbling with the entry way's baseboards, back when sequence didn't matter, at least provided some practice for completing the work. I kind of almost understand what needs doing next.

The danger at these convergence points probably lies in taking the apparent urgency too seriously, to stop hastening slowly and start shortchanging what the effort requires. I noticed myself trying to talk myself out of reworking a messed up door edge, justifying the shunt by explaining it was an inside closet door front which nobody would likely ever see. This would be a first break in the ranks, a falling back from small disorder and into a loss of discipline or worse. The urgencies will very likely continue for the next several weeks as each completion narrows remaining degrees of freedom. We might well end in nearly frozen lockstep because the work will demand it, little choice or sense of creative freedom left to us, all Consequent and no fun. Because of this likelihood, i used to preach attending to the quality of experience then, since the project, after considerable goading, has finally taken charge of assigning and demanding. We could retain responsibility for having the time of our lives. Let light hearts prevail! May we understand that the demands might never slow and certainly never cease, but that we can at least appreciate this rare opportunity to be creating Consequent results. A hundred years from now, may those remodelers find reason to appreciate our efforts as we found reason to appreciate ourselves. If we can't make this fun, they won't find it worthy.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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