The days pass fast with the class and already we are half way through with four days left. Last night we all ate Chinese at the Eastern Orient and today we completed the third project, so tomorrow it’s table making and all that that entails. The conversations we had were interesting. There is much soul searching for everyone because inside we all sense a lostness in our culture and it expresses itself with a definite search in the conversations for something we can identify as meaning. In many ways I feel contented with most aspects of who I am and what I do and this is because I found my calling early on in life. Others feel that too but not many. Perhaps as few as one in ten thousand people. Now even though I did answer the call in my mid teens, that doesn’t mean others didn’t influence me to forsake it or digress from it, but the strength of the call was indeed critical to my wellbeing and not just a sense of wellbeing. I always returned to my craft as a working artisan.
There is nothing wrong with lamenting that losses we know have taken place, but we must then seek to fill the empty place, the space of occupation, with whatever matters to us. With that which means something to us. You see, that’s what craftsmanship and craft work is. It’s not something just mere, it’s substance and meaning – substantial and meaningful.
John’s tool chest is going well with many finely cut dovetails in oak and mahogany from secondhand furniture pieces. The mahogany is stunningly rich and dark and I see why furniture makers loved working it so much. Watching John’s progress has been so rewarding for me. His skills and confidence are stronger now and he’s unwavering in every cut he makes. The saws and chisels glide through the wood it’s true, but it’s more than that. He never pretends at all, which is what’s refreshing in this day and age. Not needing to prove himself to anyone makes him such a free artisan. Realness is a gift you see. You don’t need to pick through things when friends are open with you, and that’s what has been so refreshing having him here. I sat watching John as I worked from my own bench. He cut dovetails as I cut mine. Atmospheric synchrony between workmen became common to me and I still own that right and will until I can no longer work the way I do. How you explain such a thing to machinists or people who only punch keyboards is not possible without tools and a workshop and a bench and other workers working on their benchwork. Is it some kind of rite of passage? Absolutely. There’s a rhythmic pulse to such work and a resonance many, no, most, will never know unless we take hold of things to make change. It’s a sort of private communion unshared in our new age of pretence and pretend, simulated virtuality and CNC guided mechanisms that so systematically destroy what we’ve felt throughout the last few days. You see I’m conditioned by what I describe, I’m conditioned to it and it’s a condition I truly love to be surrounded in because it has depth and meaning to me. It was woven and knitted into the very fibre of my being before anyone knew what my DNA was or that it even existed. As long as I pass it on two the ensuing generations I will never cease to hear it, to see it or to feel, smell and taste it. You can’t can it. bottle it, but it or sell it. It’s priceless.
Herein is rhyme, reason and rhythm.