I have just been out in my shop where I build custom furniture. On my workbench is the most beautiful piece that I’ve ever created. When it’s finished I’ll write a short piece and show you what it looks like. As I looked the table over and ran my hands over its surface, my mind became flooded with the things I wanted to say. As much as I want to dive into putting the last coats of oil on the deep red cherry wood and get it to the local gallery, I have to stop and finally write something to post.
It’s been a while since I last wrote. I have had many things to consider as well as business to take care of. I spent the last week at my mother’s place in the San Francisco Bay area and while there I did some needed work on her home. I’ve found that most of things I do take place on both the physical and symbolic level. The entry door to her home was a very dark thing, the veneer peeling from the exterior and exposing the particleboard, the door itself solid with no window to admit the light. The floor of the entryway was covered with cracked twelve-inch linoleum tiles that seemed uncleanable.
We bought a nice white door with a leaded glass window. Some of the panels were made of beveled glass and refracted the light. It wasn’t very expensive, a Home Depot mass produced affair, but it certainly worked for us. I also installed new flooring in a light color. My mother doesn’t really understand the depths of my writing with its nuance and metaphor, but she does understand how the light now plays through her entryway and into the rest of the house. At 86, she feels a bit of reinvigoration and tries to picture the hall table and mirror that she wants to put there. She may not understand my poetry, but she understands this. My writing and my craft are the same thing.
When I was a boy I used to have to help nurse my father through his hangovers after weeklong benders. It was a bit like living with a skid row drunk. In his angst and self-pity, he would describe the beatings he had endured from his own father. I found myself wishing I could find the spiritual secret that would heal him. It never happened. He died while drunk when I was 22, but I kept on looking anyway.
During my life I’ve been a master carpenter and cabinetmaker and a well-respected teacher. I’ve also been a parent. I’ve learned from all these things. I’ve let wood speak to me. I’ve let human experience speak to me. I know now what I would want to take back to my father. I doubt it would have helped, though. We would have had to roll back the clock and I would have had to be his father, teach him the little things along the way, and expose him to awe. I would have had to rebuild the entryway into his life and given him a new door that admitted a lot more light, light refracted by the fascinating designs in the glass.
Everything I learned for my father’s sake infuses my work: my furniture, my writing, my teaching. In the first chapter of my book I state, “I want to inspire you to some deep feeling, but can’t tell you what the feeling should be.” I want you to be moved and not necessarily know why. I certainly can’t rebuild your entryway, but I hope to challenge you enough that you gain the craftsman’s skills to rebuild your own.
I do need to ask one kind favor of you. Human beings have evolved due to their support of one another, and I do need your support. There are 100,000 visitors to this site a day. If even 1% of you decide to support my work on Amazon today or tomorrow, it would allow me to upgrade my own doorway to life, allow me to create even greater work. These are the things human beings can do for each other, constantly helping each other to greater awareness and clarity in a great reciprocity.
At the school where I used to teach, we had a series of sayings. One of them was, “When in doubt, go with gratitude.” I’m not in doubt here, but I’ll still go with gratitude.Powered by Sidelines