Monday, June 24, 2013

the law...

Simple marking can turn a box from plain to greater interest.
I've told this before. When I was in college, I intended to study law. My grandfather was a lawyer and judge. My great-grandfather was also a lawyer. My folks thought I was smart enough to be a lawyer, and so it was assumed as I went off to college, it was to become one. I studied political science as preparation for law school.  With nothing against lawyers, many of whom I deeply respect, I came to my senses.

As I was restoring an antique Ford during the summer following my freshman year, the craftsman guiding my work told me he didn't understand why I would be studying to become a lawyer,  as it was obvious to him that my brains were in my hands. Those words made me think. In time they led me to reconsider my plans and allowed me to conceptualize becoming a craftsman and ultimately led to what you see here in this blog... an exploration of how the hands and mind are integrated in the process of learning.

These days, I am involved deeply with the law as I work with Save The Ozarks  and help to prepare a legal case for the protection of my property and to prevent a 345 kV power line from traversing destructively through our tourist economy. Can I tell you now that becoming a craftsman was the very best decision I could have possibly made in my life?

As I work with the attorney, and with expert witnesses, and as I explain our case through newspaper articles and interviews with the press, I know that I could have been a good attorney. But I can tell you that the hands have the power of doing so much more than the mind alone. Einstein said that his pencil and he were smarter than he. A man with tools and materials has greater power and range of understanding than a man equipped with words and phrases alone. And when I get bored with the law, or I am in need of rejuvenation, a few minutes engaged in the luscious reality of making beautiful and useful things fills the bill.

Unless we are able to get an extension, all legal arguments must be made by this Friday, June 28, so if I'm less attentive to the blog than usual, that is my excuse.The walnut box in the photo above was one made in a class as a demonstration box. It was so plain and boring that I went after it with my angle grinder. Now that  it's more interesting, I may be able to sell it.

Make, fix and create...


  1. My father is a lawyer (just retired), and a very good one. But for as long as I can remember, he has spent his free time building things. He even went so far as to buy a cottage, with the aim (I believe) of having an object which he could continually renew (so far, two additions, a complete renovation of the garage/basement into a workshop, a gardening shed and a storage shed, and a transformation of the boathouse into a bunkhouse. And I'm probably forgetting some things).
    I think he became a lawyer for his family, but he did the rest for his soul.

  2. Ben, I have this theory that those who work intelligently with their hands work more intelligently with everything else. I bet your father is evidence of that.

  3. Amen, Doug.