This time of year I, like probably many of you, make a point to remember ancestors friends and family that have left earth side. I realized I never really share about my dad who passed away many years ago. Maybe it is because in our culture talking about death shuts down conversation and sometimes makes folks feel awkward. Anyways, that isn’t my intention here, it is to share how who he was and what he was passionate about influenced me. I often get asked how and why I wanted to make jewellery and I think my dad had a big part to play in that, even though he wasn’t here in body to see me do it.
First and foremost, both my parents are some of the most compassionate people I have ever met and am grateful for them sharing their values and priorities with me. At a time when masculinity seemingly meant toughness and not showing your feelings, my dad wore his gentle and soft heart on his sleeve.
He was fascinated by the planet, which lead him to an adventurous career in geology. He looked for gold! Not because he wanted to fill his pockets with gold, but because how and where gold forms in the earth and how and where to find it drew him in. Every time we went somewhere new he would tell me how the earth was formed there and what minerals would be there… the idea that some of those rocks and minerals could magically transform with fire and alchemy into treasures amazed me for as long as I can remember.
He was a spiritual person and a Buddhist, sharing the benefits of meditation with us as kiddos from early ages. I remember trying to meditate with him in silence when I was about five and interrupting him every few minutes to say “there are still thoughts in my brain dad” He would laugh and that is okay. Just see them as thoughts and they will naturally pass through… I’m still not sure adult me gets it, or is “good” at it. But I appreciate having moments of time to practice.
One of the values he shared with me is embracing impermanence and trying not to prioritize material possessions… It is a funny juxtaposition for someone to literally spend their days looking for gold, but not actually holding material positions as a priority. I like it though. I think it might be why I lean into the process of making, and why the intentions I put into each piece are so important to me. It makes the jewellery, to me, be less about hoarding pirate booty and more about the sentiment and meaning behind it.
His job took him all over the world at a time before backpacking was common outside of Europe, and cell phones hadn’t been invented. He would sometimes radio us from the jungle of Papua New Guinea, from mountain tops in Northern Canada, from the sacred valley in Peru, from the cold of Siberia and many more places. Living in these far off lands with the people from the cultures of those places, in a time before western culture had reached them, I’m sure influenced him and changed who he was when he was home with us. How could it not? In turn, I’m sure it changed how my family was too.
The last thing I want to share about him here is that he encouraged me and my brother to be who we are in the world, even with my less than conventional career dreams. He would always say “my only wish is for you to be you, and for your life to have lots of happiness”. I am me and I have lots of happiness. I often wonder if he sees me and knows that.