Build your wings

“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury

There is only one activity in the morning that I enjoy more than my coffee and newspaper. Thankfully there is Illy coffee. My daughter brought some back for me from a trip to Europe. That was probably close to twenty years ago, and I pretty much don’t drink any other coffee at home. It was difficult to find it here back then. And it was expensive, like gold if you could find it, but there is in my humble opinion nothing better if you are a coffee lover. You have to unscrew the lid off the silver can, and pop the sealed metal cover freeing a sensuous aroma which lifts you.Coffee

I still make it the easy way, with a three piece stove-top Bialetti espresso coffee maker. I’ve tried all fashion of espresso machines, and I can tell you I like my tools and machines, but when it comes to making great coffee: simple is still the best. The first sip is like a smooth jazz sax, gliding over your tongue and enticing your senses. You look at it as you pour it in your cup. You hear it finding the mark, careful not to spill any. Drinking it in, you smell it, you feel it, and you allow yourself to be taken by it. It embraces you with electricity.

I couple that awakening with my morning paper which equally tingles many senses simultaneously. I love the feel of the paper in my hands, the sound of it as I turn the pages, the images a condensation of the human condition, at once sad and happy and detestable and heroic. The paper itself is alive, borne of the forests that hold our planet together. I like the aroma of newsprint. As soon as you spread it out, it comes alive. It is the medium through which ideas are communicated and human experience is shared. As I scour the graphics to see what grabs me, and then read the stories, I hear the voices of the writers, and the words of the arrogant and the humble. It provides me with the tools to evaluate life. Those words translate to ideas, to shared experience and into an exploding body of human knowledge that propels humanity.

Graphic Arts, in its many forms, is exactly that. A humble tool, borne of nature, honed by man, to allow us to communicate with one another and share the human experience. It enables us to transcend time and space, to know the ideas and minds and stories of heroes and demons, whose bodies although erased from existence, continue to impact our thoughts and actions. Which of Christopher Columbus’ contemporaries could have imagined what he unleashed through his expeditions? I can see them now, waving to him as he ventured off to his doom, falling off the edge of a flat two-dimensional planet. Or perhaps Leonardo Da Vinci’s contemporaries? Who may have ridiculed him for drawing pictures of flying machines and ships that sailed below the water? If only they knew then the value of those papers, inscribed by ordinary men with genius that transcends time and continues to live by the sharing of those images. All of humanity’s greatest accomplishments have begun humbly on a piece of paper with a graphic representation of an idea. And equally, humanity’s most despicable acts have been legitimized by the ink spilled on a piece of paper which enabled monstrous cruelty and inhumanity. Like most tools, it may be used with skill to elevate humanity, or brandished by malevolent butchers intent on denigration.

Ideas are powerful. The sharing of ideas comes by communication. Graphic Arts, from the written word, to dancing black type fonts, to colourful images of the world, have the power to educate, to motivate, to elevate a single person and to galvanize humanity. What you do in the Graphic Arts business, is add value to the world. It is true, as a business you may sell paper, or ink, or printing machines, or business cards, or flyers, but what you really do is enhance the world by sharing the information in a format specific to the people you are reaching out to. The industry may not be sexy, but there is nothing filled with more romance and passion than the flowering of an idea. To be a part of that, should energize you. Think about it as you savour your morning coffee, and read your paper.
My gratitude to Joe Mulcahy for providing me with some white space to do with as I wish. Joe, I hope your readers will enjoy my thoughts and words and find them helpful. Many thanks.

I would love to hear from you and invite your questions and comments. You can reach me by e-mail at With three decades of experience as an accounting professional, consultant to small business and business owner, there may be a few things I can help you with. Call me. Best wishes, Sid.