06 March 2011

The Man, Part II

Today in the midst of activities without agenda, I realized that I may be doomed to a life of unprofitability, and therefore, uselessness.

This flash of insight burst upon me as my daughter and I sat on a small pile of old railroad ties, contentedly munching on crackers while taking a break from an impromptu photo safari.  We had been outdoors for about an hour, and we both needed to rest a bit.  I was loading film into my new favorite camera and feeling relaxed for the first time this past week, lost in the pleasure of simply existing with in my skin, and in the company of the Wee Lass.

The thought came to me that what fills me with contentedness, centers me and grounds me are primarily creative endeavors, some without program or timetable.  If these can be engaged in the presence of those whom I love, the return is even greater.  The feeling of wholeness is amplified, bringing life to my life.

Within the context of a culture that values logic and speed and efficiency and by extension usefulness (i.e. that which can increase profit), however, I am at a distinct disadvantage.  Logic and speed and efficiency have their place, but as prime attributes they define a way of life that is swiftly diverging from the path I want to follow.  They are no substitute for beauty and thoughtful consideration and unfettered joy.

I let none of this show when looking at my daughter.  I kept it out of my voice as we talked about the pictures we were taking, the train tracks, the old buildings with their graffiti, the quiet flow of the river below us.  She was excited that I was letting her take pictures with my cameras (and the sight of her walking cheerfully along with my digital camera slung around her neck was priceless); I was excited that we could share a slow Saturday afternoon, doing something we like with nary a clock or calculator in sight.  Instead, I felt a fierce hope well up inside me that I would be able to open her eyes to possibility, to beauty, and to follow her heart in a world that too often seems bent on breaking it.

She took a picture of me today, a pretty good one.  I'm standing on the bridge over the river (how symbolic!) and I'm smiling, really smiling, which I don't often do these days.  I like to think she caught a glimpse of the true me: a beautifully useless man who loved her more than anything.


  1. A beautiful post. I don't think you are useless, though. Money does not define whether or not you are a useful person. You bring joy through words, and you are raising your daughter to be able to see beauty. That will serve her well throughout her life - beauty is important to happiness, and the ability to see it must, sometimes, be taught. You love her more than anything. I've worked with kids who haven't had that, and I can tell you that it makes a huge difference.

    Even outside of your daughter, though, you are bringing a quiet joy to at least this reader. I look forward to your writing.

    I will never make much money. I work in a profession that does not have a really high income potential. It doesn't matter, though. What I do matters, in a small way. If you have the ability to see beauty and to value joy, you are successful.

  2. The Man, parts I and II, are both perfect. I have a 5 year old lassie, that's can fix a bad day in a heartbeat. Thanks for the entries, they spoke volumes to me. I want to teach and share beauty with her. Thanks for the reminder.

    The Cheeky Daddy

  3. I love this...even the thought of y'all taking off on a photographic jaunt thrills me.

    How many entertain their children with video games, amusement parks, etc.? Not saying that's bad, but I love the idea of y'all meandering with no clock/calculator and the sheer creativity of it all.

    Cherish it. Money be damned.

  4. "Loading film..." That's not a misprint, is it?

  5. Useful is, indeed, in the eye of the user, right? Or...one man's toothpick is another man's crutch?

  6. Your beautiful creative soul is worth so much more than money...there is only one thing wrong with this phrase: "a beautifully useless man who loved her more than anything."


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...