16. Art and Morality

Manly loved to make wooden bowls; he always kept his eyes open for an unusual piece of wood — like hickory or walnut — that was knotted or slightly flawed. Chucking the wood piece into his woodturning lathe, Manly would begin to shave and shape the wood into the final product. And though he would always begin with a rough idea for the bowl’s shape, that itself was subject to change depending on what he discovered in the underlying integrity of the wood. Working around knots and burls presented the challenge that Manly seemed to like. He knew that the defects would make the project interesting and the bowl beautiful.


The Greek philosopher Aristotle claimed that it was the nature of man to be a maker of things – an artist of sorts. I believe that creativity is the basic human capacity to demonstrate one’s deeply felt sense of life.


Manly viewed life just as he did making bowls. He looked out in the world and saw beauty in its defects. He saw that with a bit of work he could create something better and beautiful – something pleasing to the eye.


Day 16 Guide


Look out in the world. What do you see? Look for opportunities to turn the defects into meaningful events or creations. Think like an artist and delight in finding things that are out of kilter or asymmetrical.


© 2005, Levi Hill

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