Sunday, October 27, 2013

even on your worst day...

A simple plexiglass cover over the router bit allows me to safely and accurately fit pieces of spalted wood inlay into grooves cut to exact size. Note the impossibility of getting my fingers into the router bit. By making things safe, I can keep doing this into my 90s.

One of the complications of craftsmanship is that it takes a sense of ever increasing expertise to engage the flow of nuerohormones that result in feelings of ecstasy. We are led to engage in ambitious projects and risky projects by personal egotism, the desire for recognition and by the intensity of our engagement when we are doing difficult and challenging things.

On the other hand, it makes plain sense to plan some of your work so that it can be done successfully and safely, even on your worst day. The pleasure you can find in simple work will bring balance to your life, and if you have simple work to do your wood shop will become a place that will call to you and welcome you even when the outside world seems to be at odds with your spirit, and even when more complex projects aren't working out so well.

I spent the day yesterday in my shop inlaying box lids, pencil cups and business card holders, and have more to do today. These small products are not my most glorious endeavor. They are not difficult to make because I've refined my techniques through years of their making.  I can walk to the shop and spend hours doing what I am doing today, and as the work passes through my hands, I can find a sense of inner piece.

Years ago when I began making inlaid wooden boxes, I realized that I would be doing what I was doing until the end of my days. That's partly a matter of choice, in that I like what I do, and partly a matter of circumstance in that there are no guaranteed retirement plans for self-employed craftsmen. But the skills and understanding of technique in the application of mind and hand to material in the making of beautiful and useful things offers service to the spirit as well as to the bank account. And making of small things has become easy enough for me that I plan to do it when more ambitious projects are out of my reach.

In the meantime, we are waiting for the Administrative Law Judge to make her decision on the AEP/SWEPCO EHV power line through Eureka Springs application. Utility companies are now facing what some have called "The Death Spiral" in which their high prices are no longer competitive with the developing solar industry and folks begin leaving the grid in droves. AEP is currently the world's largest commercial producer of greenhouse gasses, and they way they've treated my community, the death spiral seems appropriate. When it comes to the death spiral, they've earned it.

Make, fix and create...

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