It’s not only where I make my wood work, it’s where I lift my body to work, where my mind becomes engaged to the work I do and unites my heartbeats throughout the day with my intent. When it beats faster I feel purpose-driven with the kind of meaning that matters; it’s so much more than I could ever get from boring workouts. I allow my work to be hard, I want it to be, even tedious is fine with me and then seemingly unending work is OK because I anticipate the outcome as something lovely, useful, different, meaningful. My work is an extension of who I am and I find sanity and purpose there.within the walls of my own garage workshop – more than almost anywhere else. Work never bores me.
On the Monday morning I can’t wait to wake up, can’t wait to go to work, to get to my bench, to sharpening my tools and adjusting them to the tasks I will need them for throughout the day. I made my mind up to enjoy work decades ago, the pain and ache of it, the twist and thrust of it through my arms and fingers and hands and then too the exercising of my mind. When teachers told me to stretch my mind in studying the subjects that they found interesting and stimulating, they couldn’t comprehend that my choice of manual work was what would ultimately stretch my mind; me in my standing and my kneeling, my pulling, shoving, feeling, smelling, listening and stretching my body and my mind to do the tasks most of the teachers had never done nor saw values in, nor could understand anything of such things.
A history teacher in his tweed jacket and sewn on patches told me of the Luddites opposition to progress. It was standard teaching by educationalists so as to keep the fodder for industrialism coming to the factories. For my part I didn’t feel at all like he did in expressing their refusal to welcome something called progress. I asked him if he could understand what it was like to shave wood and plane and saw. To feel the vibrancy of making and creating designs. He punished my impudence with a cane rod. I smiled. I knew he couldn’t understand nor ever would.
There was a time in my mid 50s when I thought it would have been nice to have a few years studying and writing about woodworking and nothing else, but then I realised I have had 55 years studying, researching and writing. Having talked often to lecturers and such I realise how little they know of the making of things so I feel more satisfied because I can not only write about these things that are important to me but I can draw and sketch them, photograph them and now film them too. I many, many things in my three-dimensional world of making. In December I made two cots for my grandbaby and then in January I made a plywood workbench. We filmed every stage of both and put the work we did out there to teach others the skills.
Then in February I made a tool organiser with two drawers. Oh, in January I also built a pine garden bench and then in February I made a few smaller projects for our commonwoodworking.com beginner training program. I also made a second garden bench in oak in February and on into March too. Filming slows me down a bit, well, actually twice as much!
So hopefully you’ll see how interesting I have made my life. How though I am productive I chose off-the-conveyor-belt living as a way of continuing my life. That involves teaching the things I know as a woodworking artisan so that the things I have relied on continue on into the future generations. My life is proof of hand tool woodworking and had I not gone this course there might be much less available for people to discover because so much is lost when craftsmen and women die. You watch my videos making what others don’t and can’t without machines and such. This is the proof I speak of. As it is with many things it is about taking control of things. Looking to the future and planning whatever you can for it. It doesn’t always pan out but if you try you can’t be criticised for it can you? Have a happy Monday.