A reflection on wear.
|The Beauty of Use
It’s what makes many love Star Wars,
those battered machines, obviously used,
rusted in parts, dirty with toil,
clearly favoured in their constant employ,
the evidence the worn handles
and fading paint jobs, shoddy repairs
with whatever parts were to hand.
This was the true genius of the director,
that he understood the beauty of worn
implements bearing the battle scars
of repeated choice for the task at hand,
like a threadbare jacket or a brush eroded
down to nubs of once-silken bristles.
This is what changes a standard plot
into a world we can believe in,
recognising the imprint of our hands
upon the surfaces of our inventions,
not presented with things in showroom
condition, so clearly wheeled out
to be used just once in the story.
Model makers call it weathering,
this reaching for an extra reality,
the honing of skills to produce the appearance
of time and use on surfaces touched
every day. Easy enough to create
the gleaming, unsullied initial product,
the galleon fresh from the shipyard,
the reflective chrome of a car’s exhaust,
the camouflage pattern of a plane;
but true artistry in the stained paintwork
that’s seen service, the eroded steps
of a gangway used by a thousand feet,
the rainbow tempering of the chromed exhaust,
the scuff marks of the pilot’s boots on the wing
below the cockpit. This is the pursuit
It’s the patina of love, you see,
these marks and abrasions,
wearing down and polishing of handholds.
that speak of daily use, repeated actions,
things that we cannot do without.
In time we come to appreciate
the loyalty of inanimate things,
to understand how the wear and tear
is proof of how we depend on them
so that, in the end, when they’ve given their all
and are broken beyond repair,
we mourn for something irreplaceable.
And is that not how our Maker sees us?
That it’s gods who take things when new
and in their prime, loving things before
their proper purpose has reached fruition.
But God cares for our weathered faces,
our tired and aching bodies, our greying heads;
He knows the pain of living and toll of the passing years,
greets with a fond familiarity the wrinkles
of service, the hands gnarled by labour,
the signs of repeated use, the willing servant,
still smiling through rheumy eyes and creaking joints.
Ask any craftsman, writer, artist
about the things he makes - the answer universally
is couched in terms like, “It’s my baby,”
“The best I ever made,” “It was worth the pain
and effort.” And it’s the mark of His hands,
the worn and eroded surfaces,
that speak of His undying love.
Line Count: 66
Just because it is.
Entered for the Senior Center Forum Contest, Sept. 2020.