When I Am An Old Worker of Wood...
I shall wear the loudest flannel shirts I can find, and I shall wear
great wide blazing suspenders.
And I shall talk more while I work.
On the porch of my shop I shall carve and shape wood in my loud
flannel shirts with the great blazing suspenders, and I shall talk
about the happiness to be found in this life. Folks young and old
who pass by will be welcomed to join me.
And they will want to.
They will tell others they know of this old geezer who works wood the
old way, slowly, by hand, and who somehow just makes them feel a
little better for having spent a little time with him.
On the porch of my shop, when I am an old worker of wood in my loud
flannel shirts and great blazing suspenders, I shall see my work less
as an end in itself and more as the means of sharing what I know about
it, and what I've been able to learn about getting along in this life.
I shall make fewer things when I am an old worker of wood, and know
that taking a time of quiet between projects is as much a part of the
work as the work itself and that taking it requires, perhaps, more
skill to do well. And I will be grateful that I took the time to
study the work of those who went before me when I was younger, both
theory and technique. I will be more grateful that they are no longer
just theory and technique, but an intuitive pathway, a discipline that
allows for freedom.
I shall dislike less styles of work when I am an old worker of wood,
accepting each as a distinct and no less essential part of the whole.
I will work less and listen more when I am an old worker of wood. I
will listen as youngsters ask me to show them some method of work, and
I will encourage and I will smile. I will marvel at how proficient
they are and not regret that I waited so long myself to start at this
passion for shaping wood, and I shall realize that we each grow as we
can, and that it matters less where we finish than that we got started
at all. I will finally accept when I am a wise old woodworker, that a
rose can only grow in a day what a rose can grow in a day.
I will talk more when I am an old worker of wood, about the gratitude
I have for the mystery of life. Only rarely, and only if asked, will
I ever offer advice. I will provide those who choose to join me on
the porch of my shop an example that they can be happy in this world
without having all the answers to all of the questions all the time.
I will listen too, when I am an old worker of wood, for their
questions left unasked. I will know then, as we work side by side and
the mutuality of our passion builds friendship, that they will want to
know more from this old geezer than just how to make dovetails and
apply finish. I will know when I am older and much, much wiser that
the answer most needed for most of the young is not "You're doing that
right," as much as it is:
"You are going to be just fine."
I will be more humble when I am an old worker of wood, (God, please!),
and I will more often be the butt of my own jokes. Most of my peers
will think I'm a bit simple and they will be more right than they
On the porch of my shop, when I am an old worker of wood, I will take
longer and longer pauses in my work and honor more and more the work
of others. I will serve them my coffee as they gather on the porch
and when they ask their questions it will take me longer and longer to
answer. I will take long pauses to consider, when I am a great gray
cloud of an ancient worker of wood, whether any of the opinions that I
have to offer are necessary, are true, and are kind.
(with thanks and a snap o' the 'spenders to Miss Jenny Joseph)