Saturday, April 30, 2022

A Child of the Great Depression


I've been at Papa Callan's house this week, clearing, cleaning and getting it ready for sale.

After living in the same home for thirty-five years, there are a lot of things for me to go through.  Plus, Papa Callan was not the type to throw something away that could be repaired.  He grew up during the Great Depression, after all. 

The other day I found a pair of his faded jeans.  They have paint stains on them and they are so old and worn to the point of being trulyworn out. They have patches on them and the hems are stitched by his own hand with a slightly crooked/amateurish pattern to the thread.

It's this very imperfection that makes me treasure the jeans.  It's also the faded and worn fabric, the evidence of years of living.  And then, there's the ghostly imprint of Papa Callan's body in those pants.  He was not a big man.  He said he was five foot six (but really, I think he was actually more like five foot four).  At any rate--I discovered that these faded jeans fit me perfectly.  Oh, and they're so stylish.  In fact, you could say--they're not ripped and faded--they're distressed.  They've become art.

You see, Papa Callan was ahead of his time!

When we make art, we are not seeking perfection.  We are not seeking the shiny brand new thing.  Art comes from old stuff--that thing you find in the street--unwanted and forlorn, perhaps broken, bent.  Art comes from the blue flowered dress, found in your mother's closet, still carrying the fading scent of her favorite perfume.  Art comes from the memory of that silly dance you did while watching Soupy Sales, just before a commercial for Mister Potato Head.  Art comes from the strange, the overlooked, the forgotten and--dare I say--the ugly. 

Through your intelligence and imagination--you give this neglected thing a new resonance, a new life.

Creative friends, your assignment for this week is to repair an ordinary object.  Something truly humble.  I'm not asking you to turn this ordinary object into art, but I will tell you this--by holding it in your hands and bringing it back to life--you will be opening up your heart and imagination in new and unexpected ways.  Through the very act of repair you will find yourself communing with greater forces than yourself.  You will look up from your work and see the world around you with new eyes.

Finally, as Papa Callan always said, be sure to have fun.

Love, Jamie


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