Builders for Eternity

"Dance for Peace," by Mary Gow
“Dance for Peace,” by Mary Gow
Halfway through college I stopped and worked at a busy general contractor’s office in downtown Dallas with the goal of earning enough money to get back to college and complete my bachelor’s degree.

Mr. Hayman was the owner of this thriving company that built office buildings, hospitals, parking structures, hotels, etc.

He used to talk to me in a fatherly way, encouraging me to finish college and then get a Master’s in Fine Arts rather than pursuing a bachelor’s degree in art. He’d plop the Wall Street Journal on my typewriter every day after he’d read it, in hopes I’d adopt his reading habit.

Just before my last day at the office, Mr. Hayman gave me a card with a poem that he said he had sent to his grandchildren. I still cherish it. Here’s the poem:

Bag of Tools

Isn’t it strange that
princes and kings,
And clowns that caper
In sawdust rings,
And common people
Like you and me
Are builders for eternity?
Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass,
A book of rules;
And each must make –
Ere life is flown –
A stumbling block
Or a stepping stone.

– RL Sharpe

Recently, the leaders of countries that are at war with each other were photographed walking arm-in-arm for a day millions demonstrated against violence.

This made me think about all the soldiers out there fighting in the fields.

Could battles around the world be resolved at the conference table by the leaders of the fighting countries? Does peace come down to negotiating skills?

Where can we learn these negotiating skills?

What’s in our bag of tools?

I think it would improve conditions in the world if negotiation skills were part of what we learn in school.

Can we learn how to negotiate the purchase of a house, how to negotiate to reach agreement? Can we learn how to negotiate anything?

Including world peace?

Entering the “Your Turn Challenge”

I’m taking a 7 day challenge to post every day on Wendy Kao’s “Your Turn Challenge” you’ll find at

Today is Day 1 and the topic is: Why are you doing the “Your Turn Challenge?”

Here’s what I submitted:

Last year I created more artwork than any year prior, including over 400 drawings. My intention was to post art on a regular basis in 2015. The year began and as each day went by I felt like a failure because I didn’t begin on the first day of the year.

When I read about Wendy Kao’s “Your Turn Challenge” it resonated with me when she said, “Why don’t I start now even though I’ve already failed?”

My reptilian brain churned out reasons not to begin but I’m doing the Challenge because I know I can do better than my excuses. I’m ready to maneuver out of my creative U-turn, as Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way would call this act of recovery.

I’m also doing the challenge because I’ve tended be shy. This is a step towards visibility.

Thank you for the challenge, Wendy. Cheers to all the participants. May this be our jazziest year of creativity ever!

Mary Gow

P.S. I also took it as a sign to participate since the challenge was from Wendy Kao. It’s not that often that someone’s name rhymes with your own.

"Be Yourself," by Mary Gow
“Be Yourself,” by Mary Gow