16 Jan

Frank L Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz, introduced some beautiful sayings into children’s literature. For example;

“No thief, however skilful, can rob one of Knowledge, and that is why Knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire”

But how do we get Knowledge? I used to think it could be taught, until I experienced Life and realised that some sacrifices are required.

Odin knew this well. He journeyed deep below the roots of the giant Ash Tree, Yggdrasil to a sacred stream guarded by a mysterious and deeply wise creature called Mimir.

Mimir was the keeper of ‘tradition’ – I suspect he was actually the guardian of Archetypes – Literally ‘ancient concepts’ …. or ‘inheritance’ if you will.

Odin made a huge sacrifice in order to drink from Mimir’s well and gain wisdom. He plucked out his own eye for a draught. To become a ‘seer’.

Recently, I have been designing a desk for a valued client who is a Scholar, a wise man and I felt it would useful to understand his sacrifices a little.

I discovered that he adores his cats (he would not mind me saying that he is their servant). The gentleman also loves to rub his feet on a special massage stool below his office desk whilst working. This gave me an idea. Why not build the foot massager into the trestle of the desk?

I chose an old burr from the side of an oak tree I thought it would make a tactile and aesthetic foot board for the scholar.

Here is the work in progress:

The bottom foot board reminded me of the wounded empty eye socket of Odin.

Hopefully, my esteemed client will be able to rub his feet on the ‘eye socket’ whist he is researching his field and plying his wisdom up above.

So, what do I know of sacrifice?

In 1983 I was writing up my PhD thesis on a typewriter at a tiny wooden table in a flat in Moss Side, whilst trying to look after my baby daughter Polly. Her mum was forced to go back to work to pay the bills. It did not work, I could not concentrate, so Polly’s Nan offered to look after her for half the week in Doncaster.

The loss of Polly for three days from our lives was very terrible. Yet Polly thrived in the company of her Nan. So it was the best thing for her.

So why did I make this sacrifice – did I gain knowledge?

I had studied the ’empty socket’ that is the coxal organ of centipedes for my PhD.

A beautiful structure. With a described function based entirely on appearance (external and internal). In other words totally wrong.

I did some experiments, and made a new testable hypothesis:

In so doing I sacrificed precious time with my baby daughter.

Was it worth it? Not at all. The PhD has never earned its keep. It was just a ticket to misery.

Now, I would not trade a picosecond if my allotted time with Polly, her son, Joseph , or his Nain Clare.

For they are Mimir, the keepers of the sacred wellspring of Life.

2 Responses to “Mimir”

  1. Rachel Lane August 2, 2018 at 7:26 am #

    That is a beautiful story Henk! That’s been a wisdom hard won. The desk looks like it will become it’s own story! I love it!

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