It’s the proverb recited to brides on their wedding day, but with a twist. The new represents optimism. The old represents continuity. All day, every day now, we need both in spades.
Too much of “something new” this year has had people clamoring for “something old” to ground us and create a sense of order. People have reclaimed skills that our grandparents took to be part of life: sewing, baking, fixing, tuning. We’ve dusted off instruments, art supplies, and tools. We’ve revived an appreciation for the handmade, the hand-formed, the handy, and for life’s basics.
We’ve also nested a great deal: a primal instinct that surfaces in uncertain times. Home and describing it has never felt so comforting.
All this to say, our offerings of ancient art have been well-suited to these modern times. Being with timeless, handmade things whose essences don’t change no matter what “progress” is made in industry or technology is deeply grounding. When politics, and science, and mother nature throw out uncertainty and mayhem, our instinct is to touch and to connect with what is solid and what endures. The soft, soothing pile of a Gabbeh, for example. A tactile, Moroccan linen. The patina of carved wood. They help, they really do. Human hands connect through time and place and define what is eternal.
Everything that’s happening will pass or become something else we have no control over. But art and the production of beautiful, useful things endures. Something new will alarm us; something old will restore us. This is the beauty, and this is the optimism.