Here’s the next post in my “Art as Therapy” series . . .
Myth #3: Ordinary work is merely a drudge. I want to be on television!
Confession: I was on television in Germany a few weeks ago. But that really wasn’t the point. It is what got me over there, but the real purpose was to visit the roots of Paul’s mother’s family. If you missed that post, it’s called “Looking for Roots,” from June 3rd. Meanwhile, welcome to the third in a series of posts from the show, “Art as Therapy,” written and conceived of by John Armstrong and Alain de Botton, for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
As a child, I loved to milk the one, hand-milked cow in my grandfather’s barn. When I saw this Vermeer in person, I could practically smell the sweet liquid, as if I had just squirted it into the pail. Of course, I didn’t have to milk everyday, so I’m standing on thin ice – or ice-cream, if you will. But one of my mother’s most important lessons was to teach me the value of the ordinary.
“It can be hard to see beauty and be interested in the things we have to do every day in the environments in which we live. We have jobs to go to, bills to pay, homes to clean and keep running, and we deeply resent the demands they make on us. They seem to be pulling us away from our real ambitions, getting in the way of a better life.
[Kitchen work] itself could easily have been resented. It is an embodiment of what could, in unfavorable circumstances, be seen as boring, banal, repetitive – even unsexy. But the picture moves us because we recognize the truth of its message. If only we, like [Vermeer], knew how to recognize the value of ordinary routine, many of our burdens would be lifted. It gives voice to the right attitude: the big themes of life – the search for prosperity, happiness, good relationships – are always grounded in the way we approach the little things.”
Every morning I make myself a cup of tea, and I often make dinner at the end the day. I like polishing my shoes, and I find satisfaction in sewing on a button. My husband might raise an eyebrow to this last statement because I don’t do either very often. There are always so many other competing tasks. But when I do get down to polishing or sewing I take great satisfaction in doing an ordinary job. It’s a way of balancing the occasional television show or meetings with mayors. Without the ordinary, the extraordinary would uproot my tether from the ground.
In what ways do you honor the ordinary in your life?
What do you aspire to?