Sometimes we fail to realise that we are all a work in progress. From birth to the close of life we strive to improve how we live and work and indeed improve ourselves to benefit others without realising that life in its course tempers us and makes us aware that without patience, kindness, sharing, care and so on, life itself can be meaningless.
I recall the first time I made apiece of furniture for selling. The process was painful and so too the emotional, psychological and physiological dynamics that govern our mental wellbeing. I couldn’t relax because of the anxieties hitherto unknown. A joint failed to measure up, the surface of the wood tore irreparably and my inexperience didn’t measure up compensate for my shortfall. Add to that the finishing choices and skills and the issues become too complex to think on. I think that sometimes life can feel a little like an anvil and a hammer, but perseverance under hardship will always be the measure of any man or woman.
I recall at one point that on the occasions I threw my hands up in despair and abandoned the task to the woodpile I was left in a failed state. It was a condition if you will of failure not success. One day a man I worked with saw me work in the scrap pile. I was young then. He brought the pieces and said, “Finish it.” I argued that it was no good. He replied, “No matter, always finish what you begin.” He had the authority I needed to obey and I did. I am so grateful for the encouragement of his words. I realised that from that minute being a perfectionist leaves no room for improvement. I wasn’t a perfectionist really, more a defeatist. The project is still there and it looks quite good even now. Better an imperfect project than one never made.
From this and many subsequent experiences, I realise that life itself is an improving process. I have many disappointments from my life. My failures and failures from others are obvious to me, but life is valuable only if we continue as best we can to complete what we began. In the workshop, surrounded by imperfect wood and imperfect tools, I have the opportunity to make things as best I can. Others are following my path and I can lay a few paving stones for them to step on. This work gives meaning to me and to others I meet and work alongside along the way. There are times when we change direction but don’t abandon. The perfecting process we call life continues. Always remember my friends that life is just like wood; it comes with knots in it. Knots always have hard spots, wiry, awkward grain surrounds them and much more. If you keep working with it it can turn into something quite beautiful.