06 October 2010

Gifts of Character: Fidelity

{Jukebox at Whitlow's on Wilson, Arlington VA. Photo by jagosaurus on Etsy}

"Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." ~Helen Keller

The Virtues Project is an organization whose mission is "to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life by helping people of all cultures to discover the transformative power of these universal gifts of character."

I stumbled across a set of Virtues Reflection Cards I had received awhile ago while cleaning and organizing my studio. This set of 100 cards provides a contemplation "to help you awaken your spirit and live by your deepest values." I decided that I would randomly pick one and place it in my studio as a reminder for the week.

This week I chose FIDELITY.

At first I was a bit uncomfortable with that. Fidelity means faithfulness, right? I am very faithful and loyal, faith-filled and steadfast. At least I like to think that I am. Here is what the card says:

"Fidelity is abiding by an agreement, treating it as a personal covenant. It is remaining true to a cherished ideal no matter what happens to thwart our purpose. Marriage thrives when we fulfill our promise of absolute faithfulness to each other. In each relationship we form, fidelity keeps us scrupulously loyal. We avoid backbiting and casting blame. We are devoted to our employment and keep faith with a standard of excellence. We continually aim to be trustworthy. Fidelity keeps us on a path of true integrity."

Whew. I guess it means more than I thought.

It is interesting that I have chosen this one this week. I have been wrestling with my Working Artist Initiative (WAI) timeline. I have strayed from that personal covenant. No fidelity there. But I am working to get back on track.

I have, in fact, remained true to my ideals no matter what. I have remained steady with my conscience as my guide to the ideals I believe in, even if it hurts or causes me to lose out on opportunities. I did just that last week when I felt compelled to say no, thank you to an opportunity to create something for a client. There was something I felt was inappropriate in the request. I just didn't believe in what was being asked, and I didn't feel that it was right to compromise my values just to make a few dollars. It was hard to say no, and I could have just sucked it up and done the task, but I couldn't very well stand up for that particular ideal if I caved into this one chance. I couldn't live with myself if I hadn't registered my feelings about it. So I did. And it wasn't as difficult as I thought. And even if the client didn't necessarily agree, at least they understood. That is all that I could ask for.

I have a very committed and loving relationship with my husband, so my marriage is practicing fidelity. Our 18th wedding anniversary {garnet or porcelain... I just bought some pendants from LeAnn Weih of Summers Studios... does that count?} will be later this month, and I am renewed in my commitment to our life and love. I am wondering how we should celebrate that fidelity...

Relationships take a lot of work. They are not like a cactus that you can prop in a window and leave save for the occasional drops of rationed water. They are more demanding than that, and that type of fidelity - to give the relationship what it needs to grow and thrive - is the hardest part. I confess that I am not always the best at the thriving part. But even if I am not as present in my friends' lives, I remain unfailingly loyal and we always seem to be able to pick up where we left off, as I did with my good friend Kari who came to visit me last month {Hi, Kari!}.

Devoted to employment? Ummm.... I don't really know how to answer that one. Let's just say that I manage to steer my car toward my office each day even though the urge is strong to drive on past each morning. So that standard of excellence thing may be lacking. But that whole loyalty thing explains why I have worked there for over 14 years...

But the last line is the kicker for me... "Fidelity keeps us on a path of true integrity."

I believe in that the most. The worst thing someone could do is to question my integrity. Integrity is truthfulness and honesty, but also a consistency in actions, values, methods, principles, and character. I really hope that when all is said and done, I will have shown the worth of my true integrity.

But if I truly believe in this line the most, I really do need to make some changes to my life in order to fully live this virtue.

The Practice of Fidelity

I honor my commitments.
I stay true to my partner.
I am loyal to those I love.
I work out problems directly.
I am meticulous in my work.
I walk my talk.

The Virtues Reflection Cards may be purchased from The Virtues Project. I plan to pull a random card each week and challenge myself to reflect on and live that card. They can be used as guidance in making a decision, clarifying direction or simply provide focus for the week. When I randomly select a virtue, it is either a confirmation or an invitation, never a condemnation.

What do you think?
Did you enjoy learning about the Virtues Project?
How would you use the virtues cards in your life?

Do you see yourself in this virtue? Where are you excelling? Where are you lacking?

I plan on having one randomly chosen virtue each week on my blog. What do you think about that?

Do tell!


SummersStudio said...

I think porcelain pendants count ;-) It's interesting, when I first read the word fidelity I thought of 'trueness', as in high fidelity recordings. But I think that it is so important to maintain a trueness to yourself and from that flows a goodness in all things you do and the relationships you have.

I like this idea of being mindful of a random virtue each week.

stregata said...

I will be looking forward to your thoughts on your virtues cards. Reading what you have to say always makes me reflect on the subject.

sandi m said...

Yes yes, add these cards to your blog repertoire.
Now for today's word ~ You see, while the meaning to me reflects loyalty, values, commitment, etc., the word is also in the name of the company I worked for. The company that decided to close the local department I was in 18 months ago and let go 50+ staff. Tough on many counts.
But I try to forget THAT Fidelity and move on.
I will certainly reflect on the card's definition.
Thanks for sharing.

PS - Congrats on your recent 'appearances' in Jewelry Affaire and BeadStyle!

Silver Parrot said...

I have maintained a high level of fidelity to chocolate throughout my life and I am REALLY proud of that (and have the giant ass to prove it).

Stories They Tell said...

Erin, as usual a wonderful and insightful post. I'm intrigued by the idea of integrity this brings up. As I'm still involved in this idea of copying another's ideas, it seems to be that integrity as an artist means that you stay true to your own vision, despite how seductive another person's style might be. In that way, we speak with an authentic voice in our work, keeping fidelity to our own story and preserving the integrity of our creativity. I like the idea of talking about virtues as it sometimes seems that that is a word that has gone out of use in the 21st century.

Unknown said...

I do live my talk and that is hard to maintain but with my fidelity to coffee I stay alert and on track! LOL I do like this post and as far as I am concerned you also live the talk! Be true to yourself always!


rosebud101 said...

I have to say, I am impressed that you exhibited the virtue of fidelity by standing up for what you believed at the cost of a sale! Good for you, Erin! What a wonderful example you have set!

Hopemore Studio said...

I really like these cards and would look forward to pondering them with you each week.

Fidelity is a word I have never thought of too much in my life except in relation to my marriage. I feel that the absolute fidelity in marriage is just that an 'absolute and all inclusive' dedication. It takes a lot of work to stay totally connected with a spouse.

Now that this concept has been brought to my attention in more ways than just marriage isn't it interesting how much more wonderful our lives would be if we were that dedicated in every aspect of your lives...that when we work, when we create, or when we spend time with friends, are dedicated to just that?

Always my mind is split into parts and rarely am I focused on just one thing at a time. My mind wanders I have others concerns I can't (don't) shake. Deeply I seek those moments when I am wholly devoted to just one task...perhaps that is nirvana.


Lance said...

As I let the thoughts of you touch me more deeply this morning - I feel very much that you shine so wonderfully at fidelity. This is something I have felt for a long time - and today - as I read your words - I just feel that more deeply.

And that last line is the one that reached out to me, too - integrity. While I try very much to live my life this way - the other thought I have right now is just how much you really do this, too. And in seeing this so wonderfully in you...it only helps me to live more fully in a life of integrity, too. Thank you.


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