“The journey is the reward.”
— Chinese proverb
Chinese watercolor was the subject of the school’s Art Literacy program today where I volunteered. Students practiced brush strokes in a precise and repetitive manner. Wrists steady, fingers lightly gripping the brushes. Bamboo stalks, stems and leaves appeared on papers and were covered again and again.
Chinese painting is a stark contrast with western art traditions. In the west, the painting itself was treasured. In the east, process was king. Techniques were studied and mastered over years. Masters were copied for centuries. Canvases may have been bamboo leaves which were not meant to last. It was a technique not only for enjoyment, but a tool for studying the surrounding world.
As I watched the kids paint and repaint, it occurred to me there are a lot of things which emphasize the process over the product – reading, education, meditation, exercise, etc. They all have immense worth, but it is hard to measure their value because there is no product to price.
Giving is like that too. After we have given time to help someone, there is often no product produced. There is nothing we can hang on a wall or sell at a market. But it’s value is priceless.
Giving is a process. Each gift is a brush stroke on a canvas.
A canvas that is always being painted.
It was the first time I volunteered for Art Literacy. Another brush stroke on the canvas of life.