I find it hard to believe that this week marks two years since I first posted on The Daily Skep. I also find it hard to believe how much things have changed.
Looking back on those first posts I sometimes wonder how I got from there to here. They were absolutely saturated with romanticism and naiveté about hand tool woodworking. They were also full of a philosophical confidence that I hadn’t earned. If anything, my path into woodworking has followed the same trajectory as most of my life: the more I see, the less I know.
When I pick up a plane today, I know what to do with it in a way that two years ago I did not. My technique, knowledge and skill have evolved to the point where I am far more comfortable with the tools and yet less eager to write about each new discovery. When I do discover something, I’m excited to share, but most of the time these days my joy comes from simpler things like the raking light across a carved chair seat, or a truly beautiful curve on a turned leg. My heart still skips a beat when I take the first pass with a freshly sharpened plane iron so I know I haven’t lost “it” whatever “it” is, but I think I’ve matured.
I’ve been running at 200% for months, so took the last few weeks off from writing on The Daily Skep to do some photography, interviewing and writing for Mortise & Tenon Magazine. Like any good sabbatical, it gave me time to explore some things. What I learned is that I’ve just been overloaded. Sometimes, this is when I do my best work. I always loved those last two weeks of the semester in college and grad school when I pushed hard against the deadlines and then crashed over the wall at the end. There’s a release there. Something is tested and something is set free.
You just can’t live like that all the time. Or at least I can’t.
I’m on an unintentional pilgrimage right now. I think it started when my dad died, but I didn’t realize it until I was sitting with Drew Langsner at his kitchen table a few weeks ago. Drew mentioned his daughter who’s about my age and it hit me that my dad would be his age. I know this sounds hokey, but suddenly I no longer felt like I was interviewing him. Instead, I felt like he had something to tell me that my dad no longer could, and in the course of the next few minutes he talked about his increasing desire to do a few things he hadn’t had the chance to do because he had been busy with something else. His desire was seated in his own sense of time and its inevitable passing and his eyes told me he didn’t want to waste a minute he had left.
Something is shifting for me. I don’t know what, but I’ve had way too many moments like this over the last year to ignore. Way too many conversations and connections that are pointing to something new. I just wonder what it is.