You might not be aware that Port Townsend, WA, a charming seaside town, is known as “The Mecca of Bowmaking.” We weren’t. This week, Arden, Nick and I took a short road-trip to view a film playing in the Rose Theatre in Port Townsend. We thought we were going there just to have an outing and support Ward Serrill, a friend from high school, with his recently released documentary. What actually happened was unanticipated.
The film title is “The Bowmakers.” According to the film’s website, it is the story of the most important instrument of which you’ve never heard. As I expected the cinematography was breathtaking and wonderful, the music was exquisite, however the message that distilled upon me was sublime. Bowmaking is meticulous and exacting handcrafted work. The craftsmen have a passion for music and a reverence for the bow as an instrument itself.
The film connects a farmer traipsing through the jungle in Brazil to find the specific type of tree that becomes these unique and amazing bows, with the elite concert halls of the world. Everyone involved in this process is seeking one thing: to create a thing of beauty. I learned that the desire to create beauty is a universal human urge, something I hadn’t personally recognized before. I knew that musicians, artists, and storytellers traveled on this road to create beauty, but I didn’t realize until this film’s screening that everyone – farmers, students, children, retired folks – all of us are on this same journey. According to Psychology Wiki, “Beauty is not only the quality of appearance, it is something that provides the perceptual experience of pleasure, affirmation, meaning or goodness. It often involves the interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature.”
After the screening, we got a chance to visit with Ward Serrill, the writer and director and Rocky Friedman, the producer of the film. They said that the movie would change the way you hear music. It changed more than that for me. As the closing credits rolled, I realized that I would never look at the bow the same again. I saw it, as the violinists, cellists, violists, and bassists do: The bow is the instrument creating beauty. Natural beauty reflects truth, that is why it resonates so strongly with us.
My paradigm shifted forever in an instant.
This movie is worth going out of your way to see it. It is profound.
I am committed to see the beauty all around me. I believe that we need to choose to see beauty rather than ugliness. As Mahatma Gandhi said in 1913, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.” Gandhi certainly changed his world. Let’s commit to change ours. I would love to hear your experiences.
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