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Building Something Amazing. Wednesday August 30, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here:]

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.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Silvia Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 4:29am

This time I didn't realize the author is you, Mary!
So interesting!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 6:04am

Different style, Sylvia. Not so personal this time. I'm not quite sure why it came out like this, it just did.

Eva Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 7:44am

Beautiful, both the tower and the principles, thanks Mary. I might go and build my own tower once my painting is finished.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 9:45am

I think very often we see only our own rock, with all its imperfections. And sometimes, if our supports are not there ( or if one crumbles), or if our centre of gravity shifts or is compromised And we rock (clever wordplay there, ha ha), then We beat ourselves up over those imperfections, not realising they can be used again, or just replaced with a new support or a little wiggle. We don't realise how valuable we are in the whole edifice -imperfections and all.

Eva Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 10:27pm

This is so apt, I have pushed myself hard in the run up to my final hand in, my imperfections are extremely visible today, I need to take a time out and note the spiky bits and the tools that I usually use but have been neglecting whilst running at full tilt and use them to regain some balance. (I could so have gone deep with the metaphors here, particularly tools if I weren't so tired..., but know that they were here in spirit) thanks Mary.

Sally Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 8:02am

Great art piece of James Brunt's , Mary, imo, and great piece of writing. I love the style, very accessible and imagery to ma

Sally Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 8:07am

ke the point clearer, more visual. My visual = visual, so imagery is good! (Also audio,that's why I was good at languages I believe.)
Seriously though, I think you have hit the nail on the head here, it is something I truly believe in, the power of people united in a good and positive way, irrespective of individual flaws which each of us have. I love this blog, Mary. Says soooo much.thanks.

Sally Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 8:09am

Sorry...I meant to write my preferred learning style and NOT my visual ( see above). Hope that makes it clearer! I am rushing!!!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 9:51am

I think i got you, Sally! And thank you. Ive put the audio link below.

Tess Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 8:32am

This is my first time posting from Aussie!
Mary your post made a lot of sense for me this afternoon. I was only saying to someone earlier today, that at my ripe age (im a young vintage lol!), that although Ive had a lot of addresses and in recent times grieved for two relationship splits, Ive chosen to push myself through it. I know now that some days "I feel" a failure and I feel hopeless and that something is wrong with me. But I know through experience that I'll conquer these depressive dark days as Im none of these things I just "feel" like I am sometimes.

And just like you said, Im trying to see the good that Ive brought out of these experiences and how much of a better person I am now. I have boundaries and Ive learnt so much.

So Ive been moulded into a new person "cracks and all!"..
Now I know what strategies to use to give me the "gravity" to build my new life on.

Reminds me of a FB picture with an old cracked earthenware vessel. The Japanese fill the cracks with gold. They do this because anything that has survived so much deserves to be respected and treasured.

I like to think of myself this way. Yes I have been cracked, had high anxiety and depression. I still take medications and maybe I always will. Thats one of my "rocks" to support me.

Im working on me now. I know what my best rocks are!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 10:01am

Hello Tess. Yes, the imagery of the Japanese vase is a good one. Suzy wrote a blog on it a couple of years ago, i remember. Thank you for your comment.sometimes a few of our imperfections get knocked off which is painful, but we then have to find a new place for ourselves. Thank you for your thoughts. I always find I get more from the comments than from writing the blog itself.

Orangeblossom Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 8:41am

Thanks for the great blog Mary. It was both a good read & thoroughly thought-provoking & inspiring. Another building block for my life.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 10:25am

Thank you!

Ach UK Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 9:04am

Our 'imperfections' make us art. I like that Mary, it made me smile.
Rocks can be construed as burdens that we carry, and I am thinking that we might rebuild our 'rocks' into a more pleasing shape.
Thank you.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 10:26am


Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 9:49am

For some reason the soundcloud got missed this morning. Here it is

Caroline the Moodscope Team Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 9:59am

Sorry Mary! I've also added it to the blog. Carolinex

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 10:28am

Thank you Caroline. I wondered if it was the "rock" track you thought too upbeat for a soggy Wednesday morning!

LP Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 10:33am

Mary, what a facinating, beautiful and inspiring blog! I will favourite it :)
It is wise, simple, calm and strong, just how I would like to be :)
It reminds me of the tree pose in yoga, on one leg with the other foot against the inside of it.
Arms above the head, palms together pointing up to the sky. Finding a point of balance, and breathing there is very calming and relaxing. Great for anxiety. I started Tai Chi last week, it was just like that.
My 3 points of contact would be:
My family (children, sister and dad) and companion
My work (helping is my passion)
Tai chi (my health)

My relationships with all three have imperfections, but your blog has made me see the those not only as the beauty of nature, but the idea that they are an important part of the balance of the structure has blown me away! An example would be that in Tai Chi I would like my movements to be more slow and steady.
My relationship with my sister has improved a lot recently because we spent some relaxing quality time together. The best parts were quiet and unhurried, enjoying the peace and mindfully enjoying the view together.
The fact that I was on leave from work gave me that precious time to be with her and find Tai Chi. So the imperfections in my work and needing regular breaks teaches me that I go back to it refreshed and enthused.

For me this really can be a beautifully supporting structure for me to build my life on. I could change and develop it and turn to it on days that are tough, possibly seeing the imperfections as a part of nature and life.

Thank you Mary! A great start to the day much love to you and all LP xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 12:50pm

Wow! Thank you for inspiring me with your comment.

Arlyn Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 11:50am

Your blog today resonated with me. It could be compared to a parable in the Bible! The image of the stones took me back to childhood on a beach in Kimmeridge, Dorset. An inspiring and practicle read, thank you.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 1:41pm

Yes, the parable similarity occurred to me too! ;)

Sal Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 12:43pm

What an amazing blog Mary :) Sharing far and wide ...
Sal x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 1:41pm

Gosh. Thank you!

Lexi Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 12:54pm

I'm glad you're a writer, Mary. Your gift is a gift to us all. I loved the sculpture - amazing! - and the idea that we are beautiful in our imperfections. And the impermanence of it all. Reminds me to not hold on so tightly to everything, and that bad times will pass. xo Lexi

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 1:44pm

Your words are wise. Today I am dealing with change. My husband does change; I do not. It is only moving around furniture, but I have been so challenged by the process.

Geoff Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 1:17pm

Learning to acknowledge and love my imperfections has certainly helpled me, over the last 8 months.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 1:46pm

That's a profound thought, Geoff. Learning not just to accept our imperfections, but love them. And, sometimes our perceived imperfections are sometimes seen by others as charming idiosyncrasies.

Lex Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 1:37pm

Loving the question!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 1:48pm

My reply to this got made as the comment below by mistake. Sorry.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 1:47pm

Which question? Who are our supports? I know one of mine is Moodscope and my role of writing. I get so much from this community.

Everhopeful Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 3:04pm

Mary I cannot tell u how much your post connected with me today. Loved the photo and everything u wrote . I was very very negative before reading your blog but u reminded me to see the good things and recognise that we all have imperfections which make us unique and could really help connect us to others.Thank you.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 6:56pm

The world would be a very boring place if we were all perfect!

Brum Mum Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 4:16pm

"It's our imperfections....that make us impossibly beautiful".

Mary, I have to had read your blog about three times because I am not very well and can't take it all in, but this line is so stunningly beautiful it makes me want to weep. I currently feel pretty broken but this line has all the redemptive qualities needed to allow me to know that, despite everything, I too am beautiful (even if only in God's eyes). Thank you.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 6:56pm

Sending you and big, envelopingbut gentle hug. Yes, you are beautiful.

Susannah Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 6:23pm

Hi Mary
Quite simply: Thank you.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 6:57pm

My pleasure. And - you're welcome! :)

Molly Wed, Aug 30th 2017 @ 11:00pm

Hi Mary, I find positive blogs quite hard. Not sure what that says about me (miserable old woman probably) so not much to say really, just popping by to say hi xx

Pennie-Lynn Tue, Sep 5th 2017 @ 8:09am

I love that tower, and your blog! As a LEGO artist, though, I have to poke a little fun and say that building with LEGO bricks is never boring! In fact, a LEGO tower is how I first interested my husband in building with bricks, a hobby we now share.

Mary Wednesday Tue, Sep 5th 2017 @ 9:19am

Pennie-Lynn, you are of course, quite right; you can build some wonderful creations with LEGO. In fact, one family, local to Me, spends half the year creating the most wonderful Christmas edifice ( a different design each year). It takes up half their sitting room and is photographed by the local paper. I hope you can see, however, that the point of this post was to point out that imperfections can be used to create something beautiful. We are none of us LEGO pieces, but we can all see ourselves as imperfect stones.

Pennie-Lynn Tue, Sep 5th 2017 @ 10:00am

Oh, yes, I understood your analogy perfectly. I was only teasing a little.

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