Sunday, January 10, 2021

The compelling nature of that which is Real


Yesterday I installed a  new bedside table in our guest bedroom. It takes the place of the access panel for the bathroom plumbing and was months in planning. It had to be carefully fitted to the wall and required a cut out for the electrical outlet. I made it from white oak. It was not the answer to the question, "what lovely thing would I like to make today?" But it turned out to be an interesting and lovely thing none-the-less, for its loveliness lies in part in meeting a specific need.

I have this idea for the reformation of economy and culture, in that if more of us were engaged in the process of making useful beauty, we would have a clearer sense of what's important in the world and would become less involved in destructive fantasies like those that led to the fascist siege upon our nation's capitol. There is an important essay in the New York Times by historian Timothy Snyder, The American Abyss, that helps explain the predicament we're in.

At one time is was believed that if everyone was educated in the manual arts we would have a better basis for understanding each other. I hold to that belief. We need to come to a better grasp of our commonality. An appreciation of all labor is part of that. We're all in this together. We need each other. Each who contributes deserves respect, including those Capitol Police officers who were overrun by Trumpian insurrectionists.

You need not be an artist to engage in the making of useful beauty and to earn for yourself a new grip on life. You can make simple, practical things. You can give them away if you like, so this need not be yet another operation of commerce. You can listen to the needs in your community and act in fulfillment of those needs.

Engagement in the real world through personal creativity offers its own rewards in the form of neurohormones that awaken feelings of wellness, of being connected and of fitting in. 

I received a copy of a book written by my cousin David Bye. Sharp's Corner School Adventures recounts his experiences attending a one room school house in Minnesota in the 1950's. The book is a refreshing read about simple times and the wholesomeness of family and community. Having visited Dave's family on their farm in the 1950's, I can assure you that every story in Sharp's Corner School Adventures is likely true. My cousin David Bye is a retired teacher of industrial arts.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in living likewise.

1 comment:

  1. Of all your posts, this one may be my very favorite! Thank you!