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Work ‘n’ Play

I walk every evening after supper for about an hour or so, so three or four miles works well for me. This happens no matter the weather, but a storm might stop me once in a while or at least shorten the distance by a mile. I don’t watch the TV much once every three months, maybe for an hour or less. I find it bores me within about two minutes. Even Brexit, populism and protests cannot hold my attention because real life means much more interest to me and fake is of no interest at all. My walk happens after I’ve finished a full day working at the workbench. Now that’s always been hard to beat, anyway. I used to walk and run but found little if any benefit to running part so I stopped. I want to keep my own knees. I have a brother who has to replacement ones. Never fancied that. I think this is because running does not give me as much exercise as planing wood and sawing it by hand. Funny thing though, I have found that runners get more out of breath planing and sawing than I do and that their muscle generally seems to either slow them down or weight too much at the bench. Could that be true. One eighteen year old who worked up his muscle in weights on a daily basis lasted only two hours. He quit the month-long course after only three days. I tried to persuade him it was just like the gym but harder but he left anyway. I find I sleep better and keep the weight off with a fairly rigid regimen. I seem to lose a few pounds each year, five or six. I never gain. I think in the next three years I should be exactly where I need to be and will then endeavour not to lose any more. I think weight gain seems to be an issue for most people but my working at the bench, working by hand and not by machine, keeps me fairly trim. Oh and dare I say I am a vegetarian diabetic too. Not all diabetes is caused by excess weight. I am a third generation diabetic.

I say all this because I think those advocates of the so-called power-tool world are a different breed with different objectives. For me the workout in physical working is pivotal to my enjoyment, my physical activity, my skills maintenance and my ongoing training, using the hand tools of course, is the gym work I alluded to in yesterday’s blog post. I am never bored and no task is too tedious for me. A gym workout is both tedious and boring but I also go to the gym most days, but not for a work out – our gym is also called the Leisure Centre. It’s here that I unwind and relax before going home. From 5.30 to 6.30 I relax sitting and reading, writing, meditating, talking to friends and connecting to another element of the real world I live in.

My day starts with a cycle workout, about five when I then meet with friends for a half hour coffee break before taking another five mile or more ride. My bike is electric assisted but I mostly tun this off because where I ride is fairly flat. With walking and cycling the two worlds are very different. neither of these are old men worlds but essentially they get me off my bum and out of the house.

I like to be immersed in the outdoors even on concrete streets for the meets I make on the way. The meets can be people or animals and other wildlife. I don’t always make it to woodlands but streets always have rabbit runs I duck down to discover new trails and backwaters. As the crow flies I am a mile from work but by road it’s two. I never take a straight path if I can help it. the lakes and rivers always draw me just so I can glimpse an otter or a bittern or anything else with legs and wings. But berries catch my eye and so too leaves, textures, colours, shapes, shades and so much more.

In the workshop I face my greatest challenges and that is both mental and physical. I often rehearse activity in my mind to work through the problems. mental gymnastics develop and maintain mental acuity and this aspect of my workout is never discussed anywhere as far as I know. Dexterity with the hands must often be worked out ahead in the brain first. You’d be surprised how many tricks to this woodworking trade there are and I have them compartmentalised in the same way I place my tools at the bench and my wood in the wood racks. Order means retrievability so pulling out a concept of how to work with what needs to be totally instant for it to be efficiently used and effectively considered. You can’t fake the interrelationships between the mind, the body, the tools used and the wood. It is indeed a constant exchange of strategised moves that is in no way different to a well choreographed dance routine or indeed a musical performance by a an orchestra.

At lunch time I cycle once again but only for four miles to my favourite cafe where I enjoy a bowl of freshly made home-made soup and a slice of fresh bread and butter. Usually this ride takes me by the lake again and I will take a break there to watch the waterfowl on the islands in the middle or duck into the trees to catch the autumn changes beyond the pathways.

This is a privileged way of life, I know that. But I have worked for it and by that I do not mean I deserve it because I worked so hard but that I have carefully thought about what is important to me and what I want from life. In some cases, many, I chose the work over the money made, I chose the harder path rather than the easy way. Some might consider my using hand tools the harder path and indeed ripping a board by hand is definitely harder than using the tablesaw. But the air is clean and fairly noiseless my way, I get plenty of total body exercise, and, well, I feel pretty good for an almost seventy year old. Considering that I have indeed enjoyed just about every single day of my working life and I have never had a Monday morning feeling throughout my woodworking life I think that that’s pretty good. Oh, and my kids mean more to me than anything!

14 Comments

  1. Greg on 3 November 2019 at 1:19 pm

    I’m with you on both the lack of TV and exercise. I’m about your age. No need to pump iron or run to stay fit and live a long healthy life. Just eat right and keep moving. Walking is great. My wife and I gave up the TV in the late 90s. It was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done. I was at a motel while traveling a while back and turned on the TV. Had dozens of channels. I spent about 15 minutes surfing and didn’t see one thing that interested me. It reminded me why I gave it up. I’ve found that I enjoy life much more without that blasted noise maker.

    • nemo on 3 November 2019 at 5:46 pm

      Same here, have hardly watched TV since the turn of the century. Do have a TV but it’s used only to watch documentaries (Sagan’s Cosmos, at the moment).

      Back then I also started listening to the radio more, until about five years ago I found myself regularly switching channels away from the popular music broadcasters because of the inane chitchat and silly competitions and phone pranks. Found a classical music station where people seemed to talk coherently and maturely, just that I had to put up with that classical music as well. Didn’t care at all for the music. But after 2-3 weeks I was surprized when I noticed myself that I turned the radio on specifically for the music. Odd how people and tastes can change in such a short time. After a few years I noticed that much of the talk on that classical music channel was for the most part about money (rather: the lack of it): income, subsidies, fundraisers, etc. It struck me that musicians seemed to talk more about money than bankers did. After you notice this it becomes pretty annoying, so stopped listening to the radio altogether too. Nowadays I live in silence, I find it easier to concentrate on what I’m actually doing, except for specific evenings where I put on some classical music or watch a documentary of my own choosing (it’s also why I regret I can’t download mr. Sellers’ woodworking videos anymore from Masterclasses). It’s no longer just background noise but am fully focused on it when I put it on.

      Nowadays I get my classical music fix from downloading the things that interest me. The downside of not listening to radio anymore is that you tend to live in your own bubble, you don’t get exposed to songs that you’d normally not listen to/search for online. I suppose it’s the price to pay for living without external media stimuli.

      I strongly doubt there’s a radio blaring in mr. Sellers’ workshop too…

      • Paul Sellers on 3 November 2019 at 6:10 pm

        I like short exposure to the radio, not too much though. That too can be pretty banal though and worse still predictable according to the name of the presenter, the channel and so on. The worst part is how elitist they’ve all become and so much so that they don’t so much present actual news but make it.

  2. John on 3 November 2019 at 1:36 pm

    “Oh and my kids……….”. Don’t forget the domestic manager Paul
    I worked for a lady some time ago…..she said ” my husband thinks he is the head of the family…..but I remind him I am the shoulders that hold you up”

  3. Tom Bittner on 3 November 2019 at 2:32 pm

    I have a similar routine although my walks are in the morning, that’s after I’ve done my reading and studying. I find my mind works much better in the morning. There is nothing better than a morning walk through the woods with my four legged companion!
    Biking is seasonal as it gets uncomfortable when it’s 32 F this time of year although I did purchase some cold weather biking gear to extend the season a bit because I can’t tolerate stationary bikes.
    I like one show on TV but my better half likes a lot of the shows that are on. To keep her company I lay on the couch to watch. It really amounts to an early bedtime as I fall asleep pretty quickly, so I’m up by 6am to start my day.
    Make sure you are getting enough protein, ( however you consume it) you don’t want the weight loss to be from your muscles. Studies have shown that as we age we lose our muscle mass.

  4. Robert W Mielke on 4 November 2019 at 2:02 pm

    I too am a type 2 diabetic. I’ve been fighting diabetic foot ulcers on both feet for years These have robbed me from my beloved walking. As a contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine I’ve walked a very long way to and from my subject matter. I’m closing in on a cure thanks to a diligent Podiatrist. This malady also affects my woodworking. causing me to sit as much as I can.

    Be well my mentor. I pray that you continue to walk as it’s a wonderful exercise!

  5. Ken Miller on 4 November 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Paul
    I discovered you a while back on YouTube.
    Have really enjoyed every episode.
    I am 55 years old and live in Arkansas in the US
    I have been a hobby power tool woodworker for about 28 years but I am really excited about learning all the classic tools
    I have acquired quite a collection of hand planes but many of them need work
    Are you a spiritual person?
    I am a Christian
    I’m gonna keep following you
    Thanks
    Ken Miller

  6. Joe on 4 November 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks Paul. No doubt the lack of TV is a benefit to your lifestyle.

    You might find this funny. My father in law cannot sit still. He must be doing something. Since retiring 20 years ago, he has built 4 homes. One day my wife was talking to him as he was splitting wood with a hand axe (or maul) – his primary source of winter heating. He was say that the doctor had told him he needs to exercise more as he effortlessly was splitting log after log. My wife asked if he had mentioned to the doctor about all the wood he chops from tress he fells or the wind topples plus all the house building. His response was “oh this isn’t exercise.” He had been doing it his whole life and he never though of it as exercise. It was a funny moment.

    He also is up early (usually around 4 am) and meets his friends for coffee at a nearby shop.

  7. Stephen McFadyen on 4 November 2019 at 8:14 pm

    Mr.Sellers, thank you for the insight into your lifestyle, working with your hands and mind develops such a different way of being. My mentors of old worked diligently and more often than not with their hands walked or cycled to work and back, enjoyed nature and people. Hence, passing on those attributes to those of us that were lucky enough to be exposed to a much gentler and honest way of life.
    We are very lucky to be exposed to people like you.
    Thank you !!

  8. Andrew Churchley on 5 November 2019 at 11:15 am

    I’d watch tv for hours and hours, if it had the instructive quality and interest provided by certain, carefully-selected YouTube channels.

  9. Tom Angle on 5 November 2019 at 7:47 pm

    Does a vegetarian diet help with the diabetes?

    • Paul Sellers on 5 November 2019 at 8:14 pm

      Can’t really say but health wise I think I just enjoy life going off how I feel best and nothing more. I have always felt good anyway and my diabetes has never slowed me down one lick. Also, my cholesterol levels are perfect and have never been high throughout my life. My blood pressure and BMI are always good too and I never gain any weight at all so I see no reason to change what I feel best doing. I wouldn’t really advise anyone on diet as everyone is different and their bodies have different needs.

      • Tom Angle on 6 November 2019 at 6:48 pm

        i was just curious because my wife was put on a special diet to combat a re-occurring infection. It seems to be working for her. I just wondered if it was the same for you. I find it amazing how something like changing the food you eat (we ate pretty healthy before) can stop an infection from coming back.

  10. Joe on 6 November 2019 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I’ve been thinking so you posted this blog about “real life means much more interest to me and fake is of no interest at all” regarding TV and the radio. I’ve noticed for the last few months just feeling really unsettled. I realized it has to do with watching or listening to the radio. In the USA it is different topics but same fakeness to it. I think the best solution is to watch much less and really avoid the news. Maybe read the newspaper just once a week. I think I will feel much better.
    Sincerely,
    Joe

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