In some ways i am used to working on my own. Even with a crowd around me I tend to isolate. Working with machines automatically isolates you. Especially is this so if you adopt the safety protocols machine woodworking always demands. But there is another kind of isolating that most if not all miss. When I am working the demands of focus filter out all the excesses caused by people, noise, sights etc surrounding you. When I am out in nature i constantly filter out sounds in a cacophony of birds to identify a single species. Trucks and cars in road noise too can be filtered out if you have the sensitivity to do it. In the workshop, my work keeps me in tune with the immediacy of whats within inches of my body, my eyes and my hearing. It isolates me in the midst of any and all else. I am used to it.
The last three months I have been alone every day apart from just the odd a half-day when someone comes in and keeps me distanced company as they do their work. Someone asked me how it felt to have such isolation. In reality, it really doesn’t feel much different for me than when everyone is in. Why? Well, I do miss everyone very much, but when I am making it’s as if I am translated to a place others may never experience or may not be cognisant of perhaps. I know the intensity of making can do that to us, but mostly it’s because, well, the radio is on or someone is chitchatting somewhere on the periphery of things. The isolating capacity of making is probably one of the most elevating and separating experiences we can enjoy but when we wear headphones, ear defenders, or have loud radio noise and music permeating the atmosphere we lose the fourth dimension available to us.
I have been working to reorganise a 1,000 hand tools (I stopped counting). I am not recirculating them just yet because there are enough tools available out there times one thousand more than will ever be taken up or needed in today’s world. We just keep feeding the frenzied consumerist group with new stuff. I mean throwaway saws as in carpenter’s plassy-handled hardpoints whether westerners then too Asian pull-strokes and and such. Throwaways! You know! People buy into that stuff like they did the Stanley utility knife and such.
I sharpen my Stanley folding pocket knife blades for about two or three years before they get too small and thin. One day, as they have for three decades, each archived tool will go back into circulation. The ones I have tested out and tried and experimented with, I mean. They will be given away to those starting out on the hand tool journey. Then they will have that special meaning and value. Anyway, I say all of that to say I am enjoying the challenge of putting them into a retrieval system for sanity’s sake. I want to be able to locate a pin from a numbered box with a click of the mouse, except I use a pad on my Mac.
The past weeks have passed so quickly and I must say I have enjoyed the days immensely. I think adapting for me was easier than for most perhaps. I am already isolated in my work by my creativity and its insistence on total the total exclusion of extraneous events, information, noise, interruption, etc. In essence, it is the point of convergence for me. The epicentre of creative processing that in essence reflects my presence in another sphere–something like when rays come from the centre-point of light or a source of heat. In this, I lose all sense of time and space. My awareness of periphery may still be there but is at it’s very lowest point, perhaps even comparable to sleep.
Don’t get me wrong though. I am missing those who come in too. Whether it is those in the office, the studio, and then too those doing woodworking. Currently, Hannah and Jack are hankering to return and hopefully, half days will happen in the very near future. It’s people that we all need and we need them mostly because we love them not because we need them. Big difference. I have missed every single one of my friends here but soon things will change and we will reinvent a new future. The big things that won’t change will be consumerism, wastefulness, and excessive living. I am afraid we may have lost our moral compass on those.