frameMy son Alex recently purchased a new piece of artwork for his room. It’s a picture of the world map, seemingly cut out of weathered boards. It has a very old word, rustic feel to it and he wanted a suitable frame for it – something that complemented the style rather than the sleek and modern options he found within his budget at retail outlets. So this weekend, we went out to the shop to build something custom together.

Finding the material was easy enough. I have a sizable stock of old wood from prior projects. He identified some old fence pickets that were straight and solid but with the right amount of character for his chosen aesthetic. After cleaning them up, milling them to accept the artwork, and cutting everything to size, it was time to address the look of the frame. Running the boards through my planer had revealed the fresh wood underneath the surface. They needed to be aged again.

I pulled out a variety of wood stains and we set to work. I’d lay down a color and Alex would follow behind me; blending each coat into the prior one to his liking. We repeated this process several times, mixing blues, reds, browns, and whites. Sometimes we used a brush, and sometimes a rag seemed like the appropriate tool to work with. Eventually, he felt like the right balance of colors was achieved and we left the pieces to dry overnight. Yesterday afternoon we assembled everything for the result you see in the picture above.

Note: It actually looks a lot better than this image represents. I need a photographer friend to give me pointers on taking pictures of artwork without getting reflections on the glass.

As we admired our handiwork last night and showed it off to the rest of the family, I couldn’t help but reflect on the process we went through… and how much it mirrors our journey through life. Each of us is a custom work of art. We are who we are as the result of a unique sequence of events. We’re just like this frame – made up of several colors, layered and blended repeatedly in a pattern of events that could never be replicated.

You have been exposed to circumstances and people that shaped who you are today. You’ve made innumerable decisions that have brought you to where you are right now. It’s the culmination of countless influences that now frame your world. And in turn, you have played a part in framing the world of those you’ve come in contact with.

Think about that last concept for just a minute. Everyone you have ever met is different because of your influence. In some way, you influence people. How you influence them is up to you. Will you provide a foundation; a basecoat upon which others will build? Will you be the splash of color that brightens up an otherwise dull corner? Or will you be the brush that helps blend various elements into a beautiful masterpiece?

Every person you meet is an opportunity to contribute to something special; to play a part in the creation of a masterpiece. No one else will ever create a piece of work like the one Alex now owns. He is extremely proud of it. And I’m proud to have played a part in helping it come to be.