I see higher education come when people realise they are personally discovering the importance their ‘calling’ has in pursuing life skills. This rite of passage may well be sparked in any realm you enter in pursuit of higher education and it best comes by taking the path less traveled rather than mindlessly following the majority. Vocational calling is hearing and seeing an interest develop no matter your age and no matter where, when or how. It doesn’t mean vocational occupation, vocational education or vocational training in such limited spheres aren’t useful pockets along the path to growth—stepping stones perhaps, they might even be important, but when you enter the all-encompassing realms of answering your calling—Wow! You start to answer the deeper, wider and broader issues of lifestyle reality. Marrying your craft, your art, the order of it, and sharing it with others no matter what, you suddenly become aware that that which you’re impassioned by is a powerful state that steers you and empowers you against any of the adversities you may face on the journey. You are deciding to forsake mere entertainments and pastimes with that made-up mind that enables you to pursue this critical influence on your life with a whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Higher education always takes place beyond college and university and the universe itself when you enter the higher call. Higher education is being absorbed into your vocational calling with a depth that defies all institutions. It starts before university in a mother’s womb and then stretches on throughout life.
Each day I make cuts in wood picked and cut by hands trained to change the raw to the refined and each day passes with the rewards hard work brings. I smell scents others, billions now, will never smell in a lifetime, never. I can do nothing about this life change in culture and neither can a computer taking men to other planets nor a super super smart phone. How rich is that?
I look deep and wait until my thoughts are complete and then search the surface fibres to read grain yet locked inside to find what no one’s seen and then to bring its hidden depths up to the surface. I remember past woods I’ve cut into and planed like notes or messages written to myself that remind me that what I make with my hands is fine enough, but that I can never make the tree I took my wood from.
I prize the trees I’ve severed from its root from the millions that still stand and allow gladness to take its course as I take full measure of my choices. I don’t cut trees I can’t fully use and make into furniture that wouldn’t last 200 years. I remember first the sadness when the trees fell away from me and the cattle rushing from their stock stance staring; bemused by my being. I recall the heavy lifting with chains and ropes the wood I prized for my work and the spring now bent straight under the weight as I ground through the gravel river beds on my way home.
My lifestyle is filled with choices I make to create lasting things of loveliness that make life pleasing that are never disposable and throwaway.
My table emerged from five slabbed boards of oak this week. The woodland the tree came from will replace my taking with ten more over the next hundred years. It’s a legacy you see. Calling, I mean. Wood too and the tools I use as well.
Twenty five years ago I agonised over how I could pass on my skills. I agonised for two weeks day and night and then one day it hit me that crafts like mine are not complicated but simple. And here came the clearest reality ever; with ten hand tools and three joints you can make almost anything from wood. I felt so happy as I wrote down my curriculum and drew pictures and then trained each one of my sons with it. And there’s more. Then I went on and I trained hundreds of other people’s children over 20 or so years without ever a single penny exchanging hands and it worked to the point that dozens of them are earning their living as craftsmen and women in their own right today. And guess what? It never stopped. Personally I have trained 5,500 adults with it and now we are teaching hundreds of thousands following the very same basic premise. How about that!!!!
I used those same ten hand tools with two of those three joints and five boards of oak to make this table over the past week. Hand tools only remember. It’s been fun following my vocational calling again this week. Make craft happen everyone. Follow that calling in your life. Reach out to the coming generations and start with your own children.