In the past four weeks my time in my woodworking shop has been severely limited. Golf with friends in California, a “bucket list” trip to Wrigley Stadium and a Notre Dame footballgame at South Bend, Indiana, coupled with the regular family time and a few random rounds of golf, I have not spent ANY quality time in my shop……and I am going through withdrawals!
This time away from the shop has provided me with the following reflections, in no particular order:
PLANNING: I specialize in making custom-made, personalized rocking chairs. Even though I have a written process that I kind-of follow, there is still constant planning through the making of the chair. This planning “state of mind” accompanies me in other parts of my life. I find that when I am not wood working the balance of my life is not quite as well planned either. This is good and bad. A relaxing vacation should not be overly planned. I am more of a “schedule” person, so lack of planning can be challenging for me. I am so excited because I have planned 4 hours to spend in my shop today, the most at any one time in more than a month, and I can’t wait!
PRODUCTIVE: I am 66 years old. I was raised in a small town in California. Both my parents lived to their early 90s. They were both “great depression” babies and my dad kept chopping his own wood until he was 89 years old! Growing up, I always had chores to do before I could go play. In high school, I helped my dad with some commercial buildings that he had and always had to mow the lawn at our home. My remembrance of my dad is that his “relaxing” time was being “productive”, and I have inherited that. I love my time in the shop because no matter what I am doing, when I am done I get the feeling that I was productive.
LOSS of SENSE of TIME: One question that I ask people is: What is it you are doing when you lose track of time? Everyone has something in answer to this question…jogging, reading, golfing, etc. For me, it is woodworking. I love the feeling, when after doing some work in the shop, you realize you have just spent 7 hours out there and it feels like 7 minutes. I have missed that feeling recently.
WOOD and SOIL: It has been said that humans get peace of mind when we work in the soil…that it gives a special connection with “mother Earth”. I would argue that working with wood provides that same, peaceful feeling, and when I don’t get to work with wood, I feel less peaceful.
CREATIVITY: Finally, in building my chairs, creativity is required. Creativity in what boards to use, how to match the grain, how to attempt to build the perfect chair. For me, using the right side of my brain provides peace and feeds my soul.
In reading the above, I have come to the conclusion that working with wood provides me with a PEACE that I find nowhere else. One lucky guy!