I saw this at a not very posh furniture shop and thought about it- a lot. It is trying hard to be something it is definitely not. It is new furniture trying to look as if it is old- with mismatched bits like some cheap chic but ends up looking like an embarrassed DIY effort or worse.
I wondered if we also do this same thing with how we present ourselves- trying too hard to be something we are not. When we imitate others, or present an image of us that is not authentic, not true to ourselves. It is worth keeping this photo in mind when we look at others, celebrities and other famous people, trying to be them. You can only be you, warts and all- that is what this photo teaches me.
On the other hand, yesterday trying to do some Kintsugi with broken pottery, I realised trying to be something else or expressing something that is not natural, is not an easy thing to do. Trying to suppress our authentic selves is very hard- one has to be in control all the time. In the Kintsugi workshop, I started out with the aim of making something practical with the broken bits and ended up tearing up the rule book and making something quite impractical, but now I realise that is totally me. I loved the result- hope you do too!
There is a view about creativity about a lone artist, struggling in his or her attic, to create an original work. But in reality, creativity is never a lone effort- there are always at least two people in it. One is yourself and the other is the person who inspires you. Originality comes from being nudged by past creativity- it is like a fire that is lit by the match of another’s idea.
‘The imagination will not perform until it has been flooded by a vast torrent of reading’, Petronius Arbiter, 66AD
‘A student unacquainted with the attempts of former adventurers is always apt to overrate his own abilities, to mistake the most trifling excursions for discoveries of moment, and every coast new to him for a new-found country. If by chance he passes beyond his usual limits, he congratulates his own arrival at those regions which they who have steered a better course have long left behind them. The productions of such minds are seldom distinguished by an air of originality: they are anticipated in their happiest efforts; and if they are found to differ in anything from their predecessors, it is only in irregular sallies and trifling conceits. The more extensive therefore your acquaintance is with the works of those who have excelled the more extensive will be your powers of invention; and what may appear still more like a paradox, the more original will be your conceptions.’ Joshua Reynolds, from a speech at the Royal Academy, December 11, 1769.
“There is no one to impress, nothing to get, nowhere to rush to, nothing to miss out on. The truth is always there , plain and simple, hiding somewhere near you”.
(from the book, ‘The Buddha Next Door’ by Zan Gaudioso and Greg Martin)
Yes, the person we need to impress and go to is- always us. The truth is really simple too. Once we love and respect ourselves, others love and respect us too (see the post on 11th June, “Love after Love’). As Buddhist teacher Nichiren says, “When you bow to a mirror, the reflected image bows back”.