The clouds spread, dark and foreboding, over the expansive field. Soon, the little light that had been radiating in the late autumn day would completely be gone, as the sun set in the Western sky and the dusk spread its nocturnal blanket over the land.
James looked worriedly over the unfinished cistern on his potter's wheel. He had started in the early dawn, just as the first rays had shown over the horizon, turning the horizon a rich crimson, and driving the indigo-infused strata away for another day. Can I finish the lantern today? he silently asked himself.
James was a perfectionist's perfectionist and would accept nothing less than the absolute best out of himself and his work. A plethora of discarded crockery lay in waste at the feet of the old potter's wheel, forever blemished in one of James's vain tirades to produce the "perfect" piece.
"Come inside, Father," his son implored, "For the darkness approaches quickly, and soon night will fall upon the land. You have done much today, and tomorrow is another day. Besides, supper is almost ready.
His father, seeing the futility of his efforts, quickly acquiesced. Soon he was seated at the table, breaking bread and eating the thin stew his son had so lovingly prepared on the hearth.
"A most excellent meal, my Son, as always. Being Baker Timothy's apprentice has surely paid off for you, unlike me. I can make nothing worth a tinker's damn anymore, ever since Baldo left for the king's court. I just no longer have the inspiration."
"Hush, Father," Daniel admonished. "You are still a valued member of the community, and your urns and milk churns are the talks of the land. But come to bed, as the fire is quickly dying out."
Upon uttering this, the last ember in the hearth quickly died out, leaving the tiny hovel in complete darkness. Reaching up on the mantle quickly, Daniel grabbed a ceramic candle holder, inserted a tapered candle, and lit it. As he did so, the light quickly filled the entire room, illuminating it with its soft, warm glow.
Upon seeing this, James remembered the simpler times, when, as an apprentice himself, he had first fashioned the candle holder. It wasn't the prettiest thing he had ever made, by far, but it served its purpose well.
Sometimes, functionality can be much more valuable than beauty.
Many times, in an effort to find the "perfect" item, whether it be china, an expensive vase, or even a mate, we forget our real intent- to fill a void in our lives. If we step back and truly remember what we are seeking, we can work past the facade of beauty and find that which we are really seeking.
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