Or even, to show or not to show?
Sitting with the Show Judge after his work was done, we started musing on the inevitable reactions that come after the judge's decision is handed down. Most people take things with good grace, and then again, sometimes things can get a bit iffy. I should know - I'm surrounded by people who have been required to judge bonsai for at least the past 5 years
The Show Judge commented that perhaps people who take things too personally should refrain from entering into competition. And my little breezy reply so hit a chord with him, that he asked me to put it in a blog post. And of course I did.
So why do I show my trees? Or even enter them in competition?
A long time ago at a club talk, I remember Reg Bolton once saying that joining contests is one way of determining how much progress you have made with your bonsai, a concept which I embraced immediately at the time. I've won some, done indifferently in others, and will probably still continue to show my trees and compete for a good long while to come.
However, things have changed and my benchmarks for progress and attainment of bonsai nirvana have moved somewhat. And perhaps I'm older (wiser doesn't come into the picture) as well.
There are times when I've refused to compete when I didn't agree with the rules, but I don't recall ever contesting the judge's decision. Simply because that's the way things go - why accept participating in something beyond your control, if you're going to fight the result at the end of day? Doesn't seem like a load of fun to me. And if I didn't think the judge was competent, then why would I bother competing in the first place? Bloody waste of my time, IMHO.
So yes, I'm very laissez-faire about that bit of it. 'Cause as far as I'm concerned, once I've put up my little tree or accent out for show/competition - that is the end of my achievement. Showing my bonsai is my testament to my own cleverness, that's all it is. I put the little thing out there, on its little stand, and say, 'look at how ingenious I am.' If I get a prize for it, that's good (well actually, it's another thing that gathers dust but hey, there you go). And if I don't get any awards - well, I've had my fun anyway. It brings warm fuzzies if people tell me they like my stuff. They must think I'm clever, too. (Harrrrr.) But if no-one notices, well, that's just too bad, isn't it? I should be old enough and ugly enough to take it. Does it make me any less of a person if I don't get kudos for my cleverness? Gaahhh - what planet are you from? *Barf*
But yes, I put a lot of thought and effort into putting the best display I possibly can. I would refuse to insult a paying (or non-paying for that matter) public otherwise. Conversely, I would feel insulted if I were in their shoes and be forced to look at something sub-standard. And yes, that really is how strongly I feel about it. But do I expect a medal for it? Gawd no, get away from me, you fool. Is it a ruthless drive for perfection? Probably. But my standards are my own and I wouldn't dream of forcing them on anyone else. It takes all kinds to make a world, and I need to learn to accept that, just as a lot of people out there probably could do as well.