Big World Small World

It seems a bit cliché in the first quarter of the 21st Century to be talking about how small the world is, but what the fuck – its Sunday morning – let’s be cliché…

On a daily basis, I feel like I’m working between two very contrasting worlds – one very old school and the other very modern.  It makes me laugh sometimes, as I’ll be hand-cutting a new pair of shoes at the same time as I’m chatting with someone in a different hemisphere via Skype.  I love the craftsmanship of what I do – there is nothing else I would rather be doing on a day-to-day basis. There’s something  so wonderfully anachronicstic about the process of making shoes by hand in this day and age. And yet technology plays such an important part of what I do – not in the craft, but in the business. Technology is an essential tool to me – of no greater or lesser importance than the knives, shears and hammers I use at my work table – though technology will never feel as comfortable in-hand as a pair of lasting pliers.  While the Internet does little to improve the quality of work that we do (although it does make research a hell of a lot easier…) it is absolutely essential in being able to communicate. It truly makes the world incredibly small when I can mock-up a boot in an afternoon, email photos to England or Belgium or Macau and have feedback by the next morning.  It’s pretty astounding if you think about it. Or maybe I’m just getting old. While it was the creativity and craftsmanship that created my business, it was technology that has allowed it to become international.

Although, when I think about it, it is not just the technology that makes the world seem so much smaller these days.  I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate in the past many years in that my work has taken me to many places I have never expected to go. And have had the chance to cross paths with many great people in these travels. It is strangely comforting how small this whole theatre world is. The other evening, I was out with a Québécois friend of mine here in Toronto.  We have worked together in Belgium, Las Vegas and Macau, and yet this is the first time we have gone for a drink together on Canadian soil. And similarly, this past summer, over a three month stretch, I saw the same couple of friends in three different countries on two different continents.  Pretty amazing really. And all because of this odd world of the performing arts. Who’d have thought?

Sorry – it sounds like I’m bragging about my life as a jet-setter or something, but that’s not my intention at all. I just find it interesting that by having such a small personal world – working in some bizarre little niche of making shoes for theatre in my little shop in modern day Toronto – has made the world a much smaller place.

And as well, when you add in to that the amazing number of fellow shoemakers and other artisans I’ve connected with over the years due to this wonderful invention calling itself the world wide web – its pretty extraordinary.  And inspiring.  Again, thanks to this crazy crashing together of old world and new…

I have said it before – I’m an incredibly lucky guy. And I’ve been able to find a pretty cool place in this small little world in which we live. And I’m looking forward to that world getting smaller as I continue along this path.

But really, all told, sitting on the couch with a coffee and a sleepy dog on this chilly Sunday morning, this small little world seems pretty damn cool as well….

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