A Tribute To Unfinished Projects

January 2017Words by Mr James Darton

Simon Astridge's Clay House Project, 2016 in North London. Photograph by Mr Nicholas Worley

A recent piece for The New York Times by Ms Michiko Kakutani saw the Pulitzer-winning journalist eulogising outgoing US President Mr Barack Obama’s love of books and words. One passage stayed with me in particular, in which Ms Kakutani placed President Obama in a lineage of great American orators. Like forebears President Abraham Lincoln and Mr Martin Luther King Jr, says Ms Kakutani, President Obama’s speeches, “trace how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. It’s a vision of America as an unfinished project.”

Unfinished projects: those moments in-between. They’re seldom celebrated, but so often contain greatness in their own right. So many incremental victories and epiphanic processes can pass us by in a race to get from the beginning to the end of something.

This week’s inauguration is a time during which we might inevitably dwell on endings and beginnings, whatever one’s political persuasion. But it’s also a time in which we might do, as an ever-changing society of 7.5 billion people, as an unfinished project. That the power to grow and achieve exists in imperfect verbs – transitioning, believing, resisting, supporting, empowering – and not always the absolutes of those blunt nouns: beginning; end.