Finding Your Way

We are approaching the uniquely special day when we Brits will celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee year as our reigning monarch of Great Britain. Her faithfulness has never been challenged though not everyone agrees with royalty and all that pertains to it. For me, it is the acknowledgment of stick-with-it-ness: a made-up mind that gets you through any and all hard times and exemplifies determination even when it is a job you might never have considered or applied for but assumed knowing that you have a duty that comes first. In the case of our ever-present Queen Elizabeth II, she has served as reigning monarch of the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) since 1952, 70 years of dedicated service. Thankfully, the abdication of the then King Edward VIII left the throne open to George VI and ten-year-old Elizabeth became heir-presumptive soon to follow as he set the country aside to follow his own ambition.

For Queen Elizabeth, it was the unquestionable responsibility she assumed to take in accord with the heart-felt duty she had to the sovereignty of Britain as a nation; her destiny was set. I wanted to say that this destiny meant that she would never become a carpenter or a dressmaker, a bus or truck driver or man an ambulance but that wouldn’t be true either. Queen Elizabeth joined the military towards the end of the war and trained as a truck mechanic during the 2nd World War. She was also the first female in the royal family to join the military despite her father King George’s reluctance.

(BBC Studios for ITV )
(BBC Studios for ITV ) / BBC Studios for ITV
(BBC Studios for ITV )
(BBC Studios for ITV ) / BBC Studios for ITV

Princess Elizabeth learned to tear apart, repair and build engines, and drive a number of different military vehicles, including trucks and ambulances. This is more anecdotal for me, as I doubt that she did it sufficiently long to become a skilled mechanic but what matters is that she was and is a person willing to support what she believes in and isn’t swayed by much other than service to that belief. She was destined to be Queen. How much was choice I will never know. I do know that she has earned respect from the majority of Britains including my own through the dedication she has shown. I will enjoy watching the outcome of her life in her closing years as queen and this does not hinge on whether I believe in a monarchy but on someone who assumed absolute responsibility for her life.

It’s an unusual preface to start a blog with, I get that, but it is mostly about the importance and significance of finding your way, answering your calling and vocation as anything else. Calling and vocation are really one and the same, but we don’t speak in those terms much at all anymore. You know, I think my work and working at all things has made me the most happy. My work has sustained me in the hardest of times when the saddest of losses seemed insurmountable and when I thought to myself, ‘I’m not sure this time that I can get through this.‘ But it hasn’t always been the hard work that sustained me so much as simply doing what was expected of me. My knowing my calling has always been enough for me. I gained my immigration visa to the USA back in 1986 based on my ability as a furniture maker and designer. This was a most wonderful chapter in my life, a maturing of my craft in an environment that allowed me to flourish and grow beyond the familiarity of being born and bred in the UK. Somehow, for some unknown reason, I landed in Uvalde, Texas and built my home 32 miles north in the remote hamlet of Reagan Wells; nothing more than a blip on a winding road to nowhere and yet it led to my continued work as an artisan furniture maker. In 1986 I had no idea that 25 years down that long and winding road I would design and build two credenzas for the Cabinet Room of the White House, that I would deliver them into those hallowed halls.

Often we miss the significance of a calling because of what others might expect of us as parents. My life is constantly enriched by listening and answering. Perhaps the degree now reigns for most parents as they fail to see much beyond the paper qualification that often, in most cases, does not qualify. I understand someone having a passion for a subject, this can indeed be what calls them, but when it is a gap filler between childhood and adulthood, serving more to make children a bit more independent, that is not answering the call on their life to find their future. My dad asked me what I wanted to be when I was 14. I answered with clarity: “I want to be a woodworker!” That was 58 years ago. I never faltered from that day to this. There is a proverb I know of that goes, “Behold, do you see a man skilled with his hands, he shall stand before kings.” Our queen has been more than equal to kingship.

My life has been very full and it is not over until I lay down my tools.

16 thoughts on “Finding Your Way”

  1. Olúwatóbi.

    Golden thoughts, sir.
    I write from Nigeria and I say, thank you for being such an encouragement. I got your book too and have never regretted it. I started woodworking last year, my 24th.
    Anytime I think of you, I think of that proverb you have quoted.
    How much your knife wall has helped me cut straight and so many more tips! Can I express well my gratitude? I am uncertain but I have resolved to pray for you, sir.
    Thank you and God bless you.

  2. Mahomed Moorad

    Dear Paul, you are an inspiration and will always be an inspiration to us, the commoners! You are our “King” of woodworking! God bless!

  3. Dave Winefield

    Thank you for tonight’s blog and your thoughts on the Queen. She ascended the Throne when I was just 9, and for all of those years she has been our faithful and cheerful leader. I am a New Zealander, and as you know she is Queen here also. Thanks for your work, and the joy of working with my hands you have given me. To teach in the way you do is a God given talent, and you have used it wisely and well. Keep it up,your work is greatly appreciated.

  4. Doug Irish, Scottsdale AZ

    I was in 8th grade when she took the crown. She’s always been one of my favorites, especially given the disappointments in her family.

  5. steve powell

    Thanks Paul, for the good read, I admire you for your comments, teaching others what you know, and all you do for others. May You continue to be blessed with your gift for many years to come. Steve Powell ,USA

  6. Col. James Corbett in his book “Treetops” mentions his meeting with Princess Elizabeth and her husband Phillip in Nyeri, Kenya in 1952. He was invited to meet them and stay the night in the treehouse whose purpose was for wildlife viewing. Corbett acted as a guard against uninvited guests (animals). Corbett states in his book of 1953 that he and Phillip talked about the Abominable Snowman and helped the Princess identify the animals. During the night King George died and word reached them in the morning. Corbett coined the phrase “Elizabeth went up the 30 foot ladder a Princess and came down a Queen”. Corbett was born and raised in northern India and had distinguished himself as an officer during WW1 and later during WW2 leading Indian soldiers from the northern provinces. He was much loved for his humility and love of the Indian poor. He was famous among many for killing man eating Tigers and Leopards over a span of many years.
    Corbett was very impressed with the Princess/Queen and deeply honored to be of service to her and Phillip.

  7. Paul, thank you as always for insight into your world. I agree that we are often, too often, held back by the opinions of those we love. I’ve been one of those and have been actively working to remove that from my life in so much as it holds be back. Thanks to you and your videos and teaching, I’ve gained confidence as a maker and designer and am determined to do this and only this for my life.

  8. Hi Paul,
    I have been reading your words and watching your videos for some time now. I do appreciate your skills and take on life and life as a woodworker, craftsman. I am an old veteran, 69, have pretty much abused my body with hard work all my life and have worked in the yachting world for many years as a joiner back in the day, stair builder, and some other jobs that wreaked havoc on my body and looking back , should have done some things differently but alas cannot undo. I applaud your insight to mentor youth and show them a way to earn a living while using their ability and mind to create useful and beautiful things.
    I have learned a lot from you as well. I am nearing the end so to speak but am shrinking back to the day when all I needed to make and create was basic and simple tools. I will continue doing .
    Thank you.
    John

  9. I think that Queen Elizabeth if the epitome of noblesse oblige. When she came to the throne, World War II had been ended just 7 years. Britain and all of Europe were still recovering from the devastation of that war. I think some things were still rationed in Britain until 1955. The young queen never failed in any opportunity to contribute and to ‘buck up’ the people. The turn out for her coronation and the many celebrations since evince the admiration and respect and, dare I say ‘Love’, the people have for her. She has always been a shining example of the best things British to this American.

    No less so, Paul, are you the epitome of all things good and righteous in the career of working with one’s mind and hands to make and to create useful things that are also beautiful and beautiful things that are also useful. May you enjoy good health and the rewards of your teaching for many years to come. Perhaps we shall celebrate your Jubilee.

  10. tayler whitehead

    i was born in 57 and have known nothing but queen elizabeth. whether you like the idea of monarchy or not, you cannot fault the queen for her service and dedication to her role. i know her days amongst us are numbered, but i know i shall feel like loved member of the family has died when we lose her. she has been the grand matriarch to us all.

  11. Stephen Dale Bamford

    Well said about Queen Elizabeth II. As Carl Jung might have said of the archetype for Kings, one might also have said of Her Majesty in referencing her to the higher aspects of the Queen archetype. By her example, and steadfastness, advising all elected leaders of the UK since Churchill, if not before him, she has been in a unique place and in my view managed to serve the higher aspects of the archetype, which is to serve that which is sacred no matter what one’s spirituality might be. To that end, there once was a very famous carpenter whose works, to the extent folks did not attempt to usurp them for personal gain, rather for the elevation of all beings on this good earth, I can and do say, your efforts to educate folks align themselves well with that carpenter’s works. Thank you and the Queen for your service.

  12. Paul

    After the recent trajedy in Uvalde, it is good to know that you are a wonderful example of the good people of that town and part of Texas

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