Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Lost Axe and the Stolen Sweets

A man was in his garden chopping wood for his fire one day, as he chopped he was also making a very tidy woodpile sorting the logs in to various thicknesses. As he worked a young boy who lived not far from him joined him and offered to help. They took turns at cutting and stacking. After about two hours of labour they had made a considerable sized woodpile all stacked very neatly. The young lad left and went his way. The next day the old man went out to the woodpile to collect his axe. It was not where he normally left it, it had disappeared. Later that day the old man saw the young lad who had helped him pass down passed his house. He thought to himself, “That is what has happened to my axe. He has stolen it.” Each time he saw the young man he repeated this not only to himself but also to others in his hearing. The young lad was branded a thief by almost everybody in the village. People could be heard to whisper about him as he went about his day to day business. He became known as the village thief by almost everybody.

As the winter progressed the old man was thankful for the large pile of wood he had made. On cold evenings he had a ready supply of wood. On one such night he went out to gather some logs for his fire. As he lifted off some of the larger logs there exposed was the shaft of the long lost axe.

I remember when I was a very young lad in my second year at school a fellow pupil had a bag of sweets in her classroom desk. We had a period of gym to attend and we all left the room to go to the gym hall. On our return he sweets had disappeared. She looked round the room and noticed that I was eating a sweetie. She promptly went out to the teacher and accused me of stealing hers. It must have been a Friday, because that was the only day I ever got sweets. I knew who had the sweets, it was the classroom bully and he had told me that if I reported him I would get a lot worse on the way home. That day I got the belt from the teacher. Worse though years later I met that girl and she said to me, “You were the guy who stole my sweets.” I told her the real tale but for all those years she had branded me a thief.

Before we speak we should consider the consequences of what it is we say. This can work two ways. If we are the kind of person who is fast to judgement we may stigmatise another. If we are hyper critical of another we may put them off for life. Artists are often quick to comment on the work of others and in a strange desire to always be over enthusiastic miss an opportunity to encourage improvement. I was, and maybe to a degree still am, guilty of putting my mouth into gear before engaging my brain.

What we say can have a lasting effect on the lives of others. The painting I have included with this thought is one I have called, “Fractured Dreams.” It is one that I am sure inspire a deathly hush or some quiet thought it came to me as I considered the thoughts above wondering if I had ever fractured the dreams of another.


  1. What happened to 'splintered dreams'? Not all dreams are in black and white. How easy it is to pigeon-hole someone, not everyone is as they seem. Friendship and loyalty can be found in so many different places but who can you trust nowadays?

  2. I am assured that dreams come in black and white. Splintered dreams no longer exists Shona that was one canvas that ound its way to the bin. Actually I had a bad accident with it I left it lying in the paint room and put my foot through it. As know I trust everybody until they give me cause not to trust them.

  3. Ah but was it an actual accident or was it a perceived accident???? Shame cos I liked it, very colourful - dreams - black and white maybe not.

  4. Actually you may be right Shona we often do things we think are accidents but they are in fact very often happy accidents that we in part help to bring about.

  5. On being judgemental and quick to criticize, to blame and to 'brand'. It is so easy to judge someone, so nice to be 'one-up'. Not for a moment realizing the impact of doing so.
    In personal encounters I think it wisest to use a 'stand back' approach before labelling someone. Stand back and think what if that were me. The implications of being branded, the stigma it possesses can carry through life.

    Growing up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else we had one 'divorcee' a "dirty" word in the 40's and 50's. She and her son lived friends, definitely no playmates; couldn't play with him after all his mother was a 'divorcee'. Never once did anyone bother to search for the truth; to ascertain even what occurrences in the life of this woman had brought her to this 'lowly' cast off state. Never once did anyone walk in her shoes. To find out who she really was, what she felt and whether the brand was justified.
    In making judgements on others we need to be aware we do not have the insight of a compassionate and judicious judge. We haven't the skills to assess the 'crime', the validity of the 'crime', the consequences of the future we brand; perhaps destroying a life.
    It is difficult, I think, to judge another artist's work. Artists are forever evolving, reaching, changing. The latest endeavour may not be what we expect of that artist.
    Perhaps today's work of art does not stir or challenge in anyway.....then walk on by, save the comment for another day.
    There is much content on artwanted which I consider not to be artistic in any form. I have no problem with these, simply ignore. But when an artist posts something I think astounding I usually look at the entire portfolio before making judgement. When that artist posts a mediocre I don't need to comment....judging on their earlier works, they know it to be so. If I can find nothing in technical talent or commend a new approach....leave the comment for another.
    On a personal note; please do not post a comment on my art saying "pretty picture". I am not here to produce a 'pretty' picture and if that is all you see ..... tell me, say you don't understand, a far cry from previous, what were you attempting. Or say nothing...but not pretty.
    If I cannot stir an emotion or sense of wonder then I don't deserve a comment.

  6. Go Look at this persons work on the site she mentions it is artwanted .com and her name is Ruby Lockett go see what she paints it is marvellous

  7. Ralph, you are too kind! Just evolving ... who knows may get as good as you yet!!