[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: http://bit.ly/2gofyiS]
I have discovered nine magic words.
Those words are, "I'm a writer. May I ask you some questions?"
Magic; every time. It's amazing what people will tell you if you ask.
Of course, a lot of the time I'm asking people questions they're happy to answer. This weekend was an instance.
Yesterday an artist came to our beach and built this. I hope you can see the image. It's a six-foot-high tower of rocks, the largest about ten inches in diameter and the smallest, right at the top, an irregular cone, about an inch and a half at its base. It's like a perpendicular piece of dry stone wall, an incredible feat of engineering and balance.
James Brunt is an artist who travels the country. He paints, he works with children - creating practical projects like den-making, but at every beach he builds a sculpture like this one.
Of course, it's a wonderful piece of mindfulness, as the focus and concentration required is absolute. For about an hour he's at one with the beach and the rocks. Even the fact the piece of art he creates is necessarily temporary is part of it. He takes photographs, but he leaves no material legacy; his art is ephemeral.
But what was of most interest to me is the principals of engineering he uses. When I asked, he demonstrated, balancing one rock upon another on the sea wall.
There are three important considerations.
1) There must be three firm points of contact between each stone
2) There must be an absolute centre of gravity
3) The engineer uses the imperfections in the stones to create the stability
It came to my mind that these principals of engineering could very well be applied to our own lives. We need three points of contact: friends, family, our work, our faith, hobbies for which we have a passion, our pets. The list of possible contacts is probably endless and only you know which ones you can lean on (and know that you too, will provide a point of contact to support someone else).
Our centre of gravity must be our own moral compass. For some that comes from their faith or spirituality, for some from their basic humanity. We need a place to stand and that place must be founded on truth and acceptance, both of self and of others. Which brings me to the third and most important point.
We know that we are not perfect. Nobody is. We have imperfections, and that is what makes us perfect to build with.
Our points of contact are also not perfect but our joint imperfections fit together perfectly, allowing us to build together something bigger than we are as individuals.
James Brunt could build a tower with perfectly regular stones, but it would be like building with Lego: boring and without the seeming magic of impossibility. There would be no art.
It is our imperfections which make us art; which make us impossibly beautiful.
A Moodscope member.