Sometimes analogies are the best reflection of life. We just received an incredibly thoughtful letter from one of our frame suppliers and want to share it with the world. It’s these small gestures that connect businesses to the real human beings behind them. The letter was an open reflection on the nuanced lessons learned from the material they work with every day: wood. What interesting insights! Reading the letter was a great reminder of the things we can learn from this unprecedented year and from our everyday lives. In this week, especially, we are giving thanks for the small, ordinary moments that center our lives.
James Thorpe, Picture Woods Director of Operations, makes the connection that humans are very much like wood in that they “take as long as they take” to transform into something beautiful. He notes that compromise and cooperation is key in nature as in life.
Here is the letter in its entirety. We thought you’d love to read every word:
Dear Picture Woods Family,
Here at Picture Woods, we have the good fortune of spending our time working with the wonderful framers, artists, designers, and craftspeople we are lucky enough to have as customers. But we also have the joy of working with a more inanimate, yet essential, colleague: wood. As this difficult and outrageous year draws to a close, I have been contemplating the straightforward magic of wood. Wood has a lot of wisdom to offer, and not just about the virtues of being silent (I’m still practicing that one). So as the holidays approach, and we turn inward in the spirit of growth and reflection, I hope you’ll allow me to share some of the things I’ve picked up from spending my days, and recently a lot of my nights and weekends, with hardwoods.
Wood has a natural beauty, but it needs to be coaxed out, with patience and hard work. Perhaps milling reveals a hidden burl, or the third coat of oil uncovers and shade of gold swirled into the grain; you can’t know until it’s ready to be revealed. The transformation takes exactly how long it takes, and if you rush it, it’s pretty easy to tell. But at the same time, there’s no need to rush because things take exactly as long as they take. In this way working with wood is like working with human beings, except wood generally requires more sandpaper.
Everything in life involves some sort of compromise, and wood is nature’s compromise between earth and water. It needs both to grow, and it embodies the qualities of each: strong and resilient like the earth; flexible, malleable like water. Consider maple, which is a very hard wood. Its famous curly figure is literally a ripple effect caused by the force exerted by a branch coming off the trunk. If, like a tree, we’re able to be strong and flexible at the same time, perhaps the extra emotional weight we’ve all been carrying this year will ripple out to create something beautiful.
Wood moves. It swells and shrinks with the seasons in predictable ways. In order to avoid cracking and splitting, skilled woodworkers know how to with within this movement rather than against it. Just something to consider while you’re eating pie.
There are so many beautiful, ordinary things about our world that are just waiting to be appreciated. I, and all of the Picture Woods team, feel so grateful to be able to spend our days making a beautiful product that we hope brings joy to you, our customers, and to your customers as well. In that way, our shared connection is like a forest. So from one tree to another, I hope you plant strong roots, grow toward the sun, drink enough water, and give the world more clean air than you take in.
In appreciation, James Thorpe, Director of Operations at Picture Woods, Ltd.”
Many small businesses have been adapting at a record pace to serve their communities. For us as a small business, the support from our clients, artists and vendors is deeply cherished. On both a personal and professional level this year has become a unifying moment in which we are all doing our best to take the next step forward.
A big “thank you!” to Picture Woods Ltd. We are grateful to be in business with you and share your gorgeous hardwoods and thoughtful words with our valued clients/friends.
Wishing you health, peace, cooperation, understanding and gratitude this unique 2020 Thanksgiving!