A large chunk of ice sits under the broiling Caribbean sun. Two crewmen just left it, hefting it off the dolly and onto a tarp in the middle of the pool deck. Curious cruisers, myself included, gather around the inert object, watching it to see how quickly it’ll melt. After all, it is nearly noon, and a sheen of sweat shows on everyone’s face, even those hale and hearty members from such hot places as Texas and the western desert states.
But if the ice is melting, we can’t see it. The assistant cruise director tells us it’s been super-cooled and will last a while. This enables it to be both a center piece and creates a better carving experience for the ice artist, who will be coming along shortly to make a demonstration.
As we wait, I snap pictures, clean the humidity off my lens, and wonder what the ice-artist sees when he looks at the block of ice. Like other sculptors, artists, architects, and creative people, he must see potential where I only see ice-cubes and freezer burn. It’s as though he sees through a different lens than I do.
The artist comes out to general applause, and inspects his tools before working. Once assured that the tools are all present, and the ice is ready for carving, he starts the show with a flourish. Shards of ice fly off of the block, snowing on those sitting nearby, causing a chorus of shrieks, but he is not disturbed. Round and around he dances around the ice, chipping and shaping, his movements fast and sure.
“Can anyone guess what he is making?” the assistant cruise director asks. “Anyone?”
Suggestions are shouted. Everything from the Eiffel Tower to a seal is suggested; but as the carving continues, the suggestions dwindle, and we begin to run out of ideas. The Eiffel Tower is out, since the top of the sculpture is rounded. The seal is unlikely. Some suggested that he was carving the cruise liner that we were on, but it was much too tall for that.
The artist chips away, unconcerned by the attention. We watch and we grow a little impatient. We want to know, for certain, what he is creating. We want to offer advice, suggestion, to be in on the action – but this is his work alone. We can only wait and watch.
A lot of life is like that. While some aspects of our world are under our direct control (I can choose what I wear, where I live, what I’ll eat), others are not. We cannot see the future, nor know how certain events will ultimately unfold. While we may contribute our voices, our enthusiasm, as we did for the ice sculptor, a lot of life is learning to wait, to watch, while the Master Artist does His work.
After twenty minutes of work, the Ice Sculptor dances around the ice one more time. His keen eyes examine his handiwork, and with a swift, sure motion, he leans in to cut away one more chunk of ice. It sheers away and a graceful swan sits on the open deck, its head tucked modestly under its wing.
With another flourish, the artist throws down his tools, and bows to the applause. He has revealed what the ice had hidden, and released the swan from its cold prison.
His work is done.