May 31, 2011

Make Something of Something

I’ve been following the energetic creativity and general joie de vivre of Claire the illustrator for a good while. Sometimes young people give you hope – there’s a spark there: a passion, a purpose, a spirit. If you’re looking for an example of resourcefulness, seek her out. I thought she was a real individual who happened to be handy with a pencil, but it turns out she’s also handy with saw and set-square. She wanted for something, and went and made the damn thing. Now that is a kind of problem-solving psychology that is all too rare these days. And there’s a fair example of fatherhood here too. Go look.

Image lifted from Pretty sure she'll be alright with that.

The example set me thinking. Time was that there were three kinds of people: people who made stuff or dug it out of the ground; people who sold the stuff that was made, or else filled in ledgers to record how much was sold; and people who did bugger all. Each had a value set. The first put value in skill; the second put value in money; the third put value in blood, or else in tradition. It seems to me that there is something very honourable in setting store by skill, something noble about blood, and something essential about tradition. And that makes me lament all the more that practically everyone these days is of the second category. Everyone is a salesman or an administrator, and our lives are reducible to an overwhelming concern with the bottom line. I find very little by way of humanity in the mere chasing of green.

Alas, the artisan and the patron are not likely to be resuscitated any time soon. I therefore exhort you to do as our young exemplar does, and make something of something. Find some value in life that does not reduce to dollars and cents. If you have a frivolous hobby, pursue it seriously. Play an instrument? Dedicate yourself to mastering it. If you’re a gardener, don’t satisfy yourself with pulling weeds, but work to enchant it. Write stories? Get published! There is humanity in these things, for the human creature is artful and skilful. Therein lies one source of our cachet.


  1. Hello:
    Claire looks to be an impressive woman in many regards. Certainly her 'set to it' attitude is commendable and her technical skills impressive. We trust, along with you, that her talents will be suitably rewarded.

    But, as you say, are there just too many people these days fixated with the 'bottom line' and never looking any further upward? Art and skill, most definitely and, we would venture, spirituality are the stuff of which humanity is made.

  2. Food for thought indeed. Alas I think i fall into the 'do bugger all' category, I was one of those odd teenagers who got lost after leaving school ( not good at anything but not entirely thick) and I've really just been wandering in a maze ever since wondering how everyone else knew what to do with their lives.


    I stand (sit) taller with a smile in my spine!

    Thank you, too, Jane and Lance.

    Firm handshakes all round!

    I've been reading about the two William Morris-es, and saw a small John Ruskin exhibition a little while back - I think if these men and people like them were more easily encounterable more modern would think "alright then, I will".

    I am certainly alright with your picture-lifting!

  4. Hattatt's, I think we should publish the recipe, lest everyone forgets.

    Tabitha, I reckon there are several thousand people who read your blog and wish they were you. So, you must have done something right. Maybe everyone else didn't know. Maybe they didn't think about it, and just went with the first thing that turned up. I'd be willing to wager on that.

    Claire, you are most welcome. I must recommend to you the cafe at the Victoria & Albert Museum, if you have never been there. It is easily the finest exhibit in the whole place, and you of all people will find it inspiring.

  5. Hattatts, I apologise for the grocer's apostrophe in my last. I don't know how it got in there.


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