Thursday, 26 July 2012

Words , Words and More Words.

Paintings on Display

I am sure everybody is familiar with the well used quotation, “ Empty barrels make the most sound.” It was a great favourite of my father who was indeed a man of few words. When he did speak it was almost without exception worth listening to what he had to say. I was always sure that deep within lay an intellectual ability that had never fully been able to flourish and find vent.

He was one of a family of eleven not counting his parents, which would have been thirteen. For such a family school was something that had to be done until you were old enough to get out and find a job. He therefore began working in the coal mines at a very early age. He later got out of that and became a painter. Sadly, it was not the kind of painter most reading this will be, he worked painting ships and decorating ship cabins for navel warships.

Nevertheless he had a wonderful knowledge of nature, which he passed on to me on our Sunday walks. He also seemed to have a built in understanding of people. I frequently heard him say to me, “Remember the empty barrels make the most sound.”  Or he would gently say to, ‘Unless you are going to make somebody happy keep your thoughts and wisdom to yourself.”

I am speaking of this today because yesterday my old friend Archie said to, “I like the way you only ever manage to find good things to say about some people who it is very difficult to find much good to say about.”   I felt myself thinking I had maybe just learned that lesson of my fathers.

There is a true tale.

The disciples of Lao-Tzu were one day sitting together absorbed in discussing the dictum of their master:

“Those who know do not say; Those who do say do not know.”

When Lao-Tzu joined them, they asked for clarification of his words.

 He replied, saying, “Which of you knows the fragrance of the lotus?” Without exception they all knew. La-Tzu then said to them, “put it into words.”
All of them were silent.
There are just some things that cannot be spoken, but more importantly there are some things that should just never be said.”
 This blog is linked to my other and with very good reason. A New Adventure


  1. Interesting thoughts, Ralph and I probably would have liked your father. I have a penchant for unread intellectuals! But I am not sure whether I agree? I like discussion too much and fear of expressing one's opinions too easily leads to other's expressing them for them! Why can't a Lotus Flower smell like poetry anyway? Silence can be the worst oppression. Ask the red haired joker who did the shooting in Colorado.

  2. Your paintings look wonderful there! You need a picture of yourself standing among your work. How lucky for that inn owner to have your artwork pulling in customers for him. I like the story today, your father was a wise man indeed. Sometimes words just don't suffice, and just get in the way. That's why we make art, isn't it?

  3. What is it like in Scotland these days, with the Olympics right next door? It must be really exciting!

    1. You know what I love the olympics but the English sure do have an inbuilt way of spoiling them. So far I have hated every over the top comment.

  4. Hello Ralph. I've been quite absent from the blogs. I like this post though I must confess to never having heard that saying before. I was thinking of it in a musical way, but you brought my head around to realizing the deeper meaning it holds. Have a great day.

  5. Lovely post, Ralph. Very great advice.

  6. hi ralph, your paintings look lovely in the space
    what a nice showing