Monday, October 3, 2016

_________________ FINDING BEAUTY IN THE ORDINARY _________________

Last night I watched a TV programme called "I Know This To Be True". It was a "Local documentary special in which 30 New Zealanders discuss their beliefs, who they are, what they learned growing up, and what they have done".

Something that NZ artist Dick Frizell (above) said resonated with me. It resonated with me because it is something I have known for a long, long time. It is something that is true. It is something that is part of my everyday experience. I think many people would agree with this way of seeing.

I cannot quote him exactly but the general thread of what Dick Frizell was saying goes like this:  Beauty is not exclusively contained in grand vistas, exotic locations and magnificent sunsets. It is, as he explained contained ' In a picture of a letterbox and its night time moon shadows on an ordinary suburban street. Everything is beautiful.'

This is what I was trying to get at with my recent post "In Praise of Weeds." Who makes the rules? Who says some plants are weeds and other plants are valuable flowers to be oohed and ahhed over? The green of my Oxalis weeds are not just green, they are a beautiful emerald green.

The plant police with their personal projections of plant devilry will claim that left to their own sly inclinations (i.e. successful, healthy, vibrant growth) Oxalis will take over the world in the same way that  other devil plants such as Kikuyu grass are plotting to do (And plotting incidentally in the same way as forests of Oak and Kauri, oceans of Tulips and Iris's and meadows of daffodils and buttercups).

Well, I humbly beg to differ. In my way of looking at the world...... Oxalis, Kikuyu and other varieties of Devilish Greenis Vegetais Weedus are just as interesting and beautiful as anything else that grows on this planet.

As evidence for the proposition that beauty is everywhere in everyday things, let me present to you some of the objects that I have been working on in my own leisurely way as I restore a rather ordinary and common fiberglass dinghy.

The symmetry of a clinker planked hull, (even in its imitation fiberglass form) - the well proportioned tapering of the planks from its midsection to both bow and stern.

The agricultural carpentry (mine) of a simple workbench with all its rough, rude, uneven symmetry.

Simple honest hand tools that with good intentions become tools of transformation.

The fruits of manual boat building labour - the rudimentary shaping of the dinghies new rowlock blocks and the by product of the shaping - a carpet of lovely curled shavings from the wood plane.

Four chunky wooden rowlock blocks with their dense hardwood grain emerging transformed into new shapes from the crucible of my little wooden forge, complete with its serendipitous sawhorse - the sitting height is just right for the old buggers butt.

I spend a lot of time just standing at the side of this old dinghy, just looking and thinking about the next step in this project. I never tire of looking at the beauty of it all. It's a privilege to have the time, the inclination and the rudimentary skills to be able to be involved in something that is .... well .... without wanting to put too finer point on it ...... pure joy.........

.......... so I guess I am giving thanks here, not just for being able to engage with this work and finding joy in the immediacy of something worthwhile, but also (As Dick Frizell points out ) in the beauty that is to be found in its ordinariness ....... and using a bit of good old fashioned mindfulness helps here.

I also give thanks for wonderful, modern, gap filling epoxy glue LOL.


Dan Gurney said...

Well said, Alden. Reminds me of an Abraham Maslow quote:

The sacred is in the is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's own may be a flight from confronting the scared--this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.
Abraham Maslow

George A said...

Nicely put.

Ben said...

You are showing a nice piece of craftsmanship there. All the different reinforcements are consistent in design. I like that. No sign of a centreboard yet. Second thoughts to cut the hole?

Alden Smith said...

Thanks for your comment George.

Alden Smith said...

Thank you Ben. No second thoughts about the centreboard. As I shape, glue and bolt the rowlock blocks I continue planning for the construction of the centreboard. I had thought of cutting the hole slightly off centre thus avoiding having to cut through the keelson but this would make the new centreboard and its side supports look a little odd and off balance, so I will proceed with a traditional arrangement.

Alden Smith said...

Dan, that is a very nice quote of Maslows, it is full of wisdom and a concept that echoes an old Zen Buddhism saying stating, 'The essence of life is found on ones doorstep and this is what you should be dealing with'.

I have read one of Maslows books - 'Religions, Values and Peak - Experiences'.