Inspiration Places: Thoughts on the Old Junk Drawer & My Dad's Fan Collection
My dad is the handiest man I have ever known. Growing up, it seemed that nothing could ever be permanently broken. From intricate Christmas ornaments to our golden oak dining chairs, dad could always find a solution that meant brokenness was temporary. And last week, as I returned home to Texas from my Massachusetts beach, this is still one hundred percent true.
Whatever tool or piece or part that is needed to fix the problem, Dad has this uncanny ability to locate it on the eight acre farm in one of three locations, starting closest proximity to the kitchen table, the cabinet closest to the oven, the two car (but actually four handy-type project) garage, or my Papa’s old shop.
Each of these places has never lost its magic, even in my thirty years on this earth. I still found myself going to the kitchen cabinet this week while visiting my parents, with absolutely no agenda in mind. Nearby was where the mystical “junk drawer” used to live. As a little girl, I would always find small animal toys (Littlest Pet Shop, anyone?) or thimbles or tiny erasers there that I could use to build my own miniature world. I don’t know how, as a thirty year old woman I still think that I could find magic in a cabinet, but unconsciously, I think I was looking for some kind of mysterious inspiration there.
These places--the cabinet, the garage, the shop--they all are portals of inspiration. I have fond memories of each place, creating or watching someone I love there bring new things into this world. I could never leave the farm without visiting the shop where my grandpa did woodwork and fixed golf cars, or having a drink with my Dad in the garage.
The garage, where I watched him and my mom spin honey from frames that the back-yard bee hives had worked so hard to share with us. The garage where I learned how to paint doors and trim. The place where he taught me to check my tire pressure. Here I had worked on many a handy or crafty project. And here is still one of my favorite places to be.
It’s full of anything you could possibly need to fix it or create. Furthermore, it houses some of my dad’s many useful collections--old coffee cans full or screws or nails, more tools than I can fit in my closet back in Massachusetts, old light fixtures, a bucket full of brushes—and better, each collection organized in exactly the perfect place. If Dad needed it to make a repair, he would be able to go to it’s exact location, as if he had coordinates that were memorized.
At the moment, I am very intrigued and inspired by his fan collection. These fans came from an old remodeling job where a fancy house replaced all of their ceiling fans, and my dad rescued them from a landfill, providing a new home for them: hanging from the roof of the garage. What’s funny to me, on a not-quite-random-note, is my dad absolutely loves Salvador Dali, a surrealist painter who lived in the early nineteen hundreds. You may know him for his fantastic mustache, or the painting of the melted clocks called, “The Persistence of Memory”. There is something about Daddy’s fan collection that reminds me of Dali’s work, though I can’t quite put my finger on it.
And, while it seems these places and gathering of things transport me to an inspired world, like the port-keys of J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter, I know that isn’t the truth. We humans, we are made to create things. From teachers that create the perfect environment for children to learn, to engineers that create bridges and technology, to moms who create loving homes for their families. We are made to make beautiful and useful things and places and bring life, joyful life, to this earth. And the inspiration for that life-making and joy-bringing comes from loving deeply, from experiencing music and nature and exquisite foods, from laughing hard, from being truly present and making memories.
And that is exactly how each of these scenes around the farm became inspiration places to me. So, my hope for you is that as you reflect on your own inspiration places, together we can open our eyes to new spaces that could become portals to transform us into creatives. Take a deeper look at your own collections and nooks and crannies, and see if that wardrobe can lead you straight into Narnia, where you can sing a new thing into being.