Wednesday, May 27, 2009


2 a: property saved from destruction in a calamity (as a wreck or fire) b: something extracted (as from rubbish) as valuable or useful

I have a fondness for salvaged items. It is, in fact, part of the reason I like modern art. My aunt once asked me why Marcel Duchamp is such a big deal as she looked skeptically at one of his pieces in a museum. My reply was that without his art, especially his use of found objects (ready-mades, as he called them), the art that followed couldn't have happened. Yes, he turned a urinal into art by turning it on its side and calling it a fountain. But isn't that true creativity? Seeing something for more than what it is? Seeing a beauty that has little or nothing to do with its original, designed purpose?

Dauphin Island, where we are staying this week, has been bombarded with several storms in recent years. As a result, items ranging from fencing to roofing to roads (yes, literal pieces of road) lie between our rental home and the water. One of my favorites to pass on my way to the water is this broken planter. I think it might actually be more beautiful in its current state and location than before the storm that landed it there. I haven't tried to pick it up, but part of me longs to haul it back to Nashville and create something from it...

Perhaps part of my fondness for salvage is that I feel like a bit of a salvage project myself. I feel broken up, in pieces, scarred. But I also feel like those pieces are being used to create something new, unexpected, more beautiful. And like the planter, life's storms break me up and land me in surprising places.

It's worth remembering my own brokenness as I encounter others whose rough edges grate against me. Can I find a way to extract something valuable and useful from everyone? I'd like to.

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