The Epistle of Q — Chapter Forty-Six

Just where have I been these last two weeks or so?

Good question — and it’s been hard to see me because of all the smoke! And yet where there’s smoke, there isn’t necessarily fire. Our Valley has been spared any big fire, thankfully, although there have been some small ones, caused by humans, that have been doused fairly quickly. The bombers have been active though. There are three based at YYF and while there was little work for them from the beginning of May till late June, they’ve made up for it since then. The sound overhead at times is like a scene from Dunkirk (which, by the way, is a movie you need to see).

Mainly I’ve been working, wrapping up courses and marks, going to the movies (either at the theatre or in my personal library) as well as watering my little trees that I planted outside (i.e. beyond) the automatic trickle irrigation system between the little “Craftsman Cottage by the Creek” and the creek itself. I also attended a local theatre group’s presentation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which was remarkably good. It was staged at a local winery (Saxon in Summerland) in the open air, but near enough the tasting room to get a bottle to enjoy before and during the performance. Unfortunately the first bottle sprang a leak and so a second was acquired during the intermission that came about 2/3’s of the way through the performance. Regretfully, while congratulating the guitarist who accompanied the play during many scenes, a clean-up person came by and took the half-full bottle along with the glasses and the programs. Thus I cannot give you the names of the people who did remarkable jobs, especially in the role of Puck and Bottom. I do hope the clean-up person shared the nice Pinot Gris with the cast!!

Also played some golf and went to the gym a few times. Couldn’t go biking as the smoke is just too bad and because, when I was much younger, I mysteriously damaged my left lung (it has weird scaring according to the bright, young cardiologist at the Penticton Regional Hospital a few months ago) and excessive effort could cause further damage — and I may need to breathe for a while yet. I did go out a couple of days on the dragon boat, but that didn’t go well (see above comment about not going biking) so I’ve stopped doing that too!

Did go back into Vancouver for another BC Lions game — it was a good one again (even better, we beat Saskatchewan, inspite of an influx of perhaps three thousand green-clad fans). It all was very entertaining and I did stop in at the tailgate party before hand which also was enjoyable. Earlier I visited my long-time west coast hairstylist who has been cutting my hair usually a few times a year (when I’m not in Edmonton) now for over forty years. The really scary thing is that she doesn’t look much older than when I first met her.

As the Cabriolet got me to Vancouver much quicker than expected, there was time to stop by the Vancouver Art Gallery. Now you have to understand that I am not a constant frequenter of art galleries. Not that I don’t like art nor artists, it’s just that I seldom seem to find the time to just wonder through such places and take in the displays of talent. Well this time I decided that it would at least be worth my time to take in the Monet exhibit as there were some specially selected pictures there that had never been released from their home museum/gallery to travel anywhere.

I’m no art scholar and I never really knew what the label “impressionist” meant in reference to paintings — I certainly didn’t realize that it came from a sarcastic, almost derogatory comment by a Parisian art critique writing in a major newspaper of the day. But I’m glad I went to the exhibition. It was more than simply a visual experience, it was a learning moment about a leader in the world of art, according to notes on the walls and comments in a short film documentary.

Monet believe that artistic verity was at its best in the moment. He always tried to be faithful to the appearance of his subjects in the moment — he rendered subjects according to his individual experience. As one cue card stated “he sought the fleeting appearance it (the subject) took on in a changing environment”. It could almost be described as “instantaneity”. He often would return to a site and paint again because “a landscape does not sink into you all at once”. What is even more amazing — he stayed at his craft all through World War I even though he was going blind.

Other insights he gave during his painting continue to impress — it is such an existential approach. It reinforces my contention that good leadership is a moment, not even a continuum. As Monet suggests, landscape doesn’t exist in its own right — “appearance changes at every moment”. The Impressionists give their full attention to the present, much like I contend a leader must do. “En plein air” — the theme of Monet’s life — the momentary quality of individual perceptions. Sometimes the artist gets it right, sometimes not so much — so the artist returns to the scene and starts anew, not again. To me this is sage wisdom for the leader. If it doesn’t work, don’t repeat — go back to the start and re-invent the leadership and learning moment. A leader is an artist, the team or client is the landscape and it is the leader’s task to bring out the best at the given moment.

Thank you, Monet — you’ve certainly made an impression on me…