The best gifts are the simple ones. And they are often the most overlooked because it is easier to be impressed by the obviously spectacular. But when one takes the time to appreciate and understand a simple gift from the heart, the rewards are greater and long-lasting.
When I was in my 20′s and still working in the corporate world, I had seen a documentary film on Native American traditions. During the film, one of the elders gave the gift of an eagle feather to a younger member of the tribe, who dropped to his knees in thanks and gratitude. I remember my surprise at the young man’s reaction. “Well, THAT”S a bit overdone,” I remember thinking. “You would’ve thought he’d received the keys to a new Porche.” I imagined this scene taking place in our American culture. There would’ve been a confused look, perhaps a roll of the eyes and the feather probably would have been discarded on the way home. But at the same time, I felt a yearning to understand that Native man’s simplicity of appreciation.
I received a package the other day from Denise, a friend of mine who recently moved down south. I opened the package and smiled with delight, finding a small treasure trove of the most luscious selection of seeds, nuts and pods. Knowing I worked with raw, natural materials, Denise took the time to carefully choose these wonderful gifts and mail them to me. As I explored the contents of the package, that movie I saw almost 30 years ago came to mind. I’ve learned alot since those early days, and I knew how I should honor this gift – so I brought it right up to my studio to take the time to contemplate each piece.
The first piece I pulled out of the envelope was this:
It’s only a couple inches in diamter, but there’s so much going on – tiny holes that draw your attention in, but a spiny exterior keeps you from getting too close.
There there was this, which seemed to have a wise, old energy, reminding me of ancient ceremonial masks:
These seeds have a beautifully mottled exterior:
And these curly pods are smooth on the inside and velvety on the outside:
I have an entire wall of cubbyholes in my studio, filled with intriguing organic forms, from milkweed fluff to bird’s nests, that inspire my creative process (see Welcome to Serena’s Studio). Some were gifts, others I found in my woodland travels. These pieces will join the others, and their forms and textures will eventually find their way into my work, and remind me of the importance of appreciating life’s simple treasures.
Thank you, Denise!