Spinning Wheel: Struggle


I have plenty of faults, but one in particular that bothers me is sudden loss of interest. In the last post I mentioned that I like working in the gap between what I know and what I don’t. But, generally, what happens once I figure something out is that I lose all interest in it. Like climbing a mountain, the exciting stuff isn’t what’s behind you; it’s what lies just ahead. When it came to building the “real” spinning wheel it was a struggle. The struggle was one part loss of interest, one part fear, and one part other people.

Let’s start with other people. Over the months of thinking about this project (thankful it wasn’t years) I was also running my own business as a handyman. At the time John posted the spinning wheel on Instagram asking if anyone would be interested in repairing it, I was at a lull in work. What happens after the wheel arrives? My phone starts ringing off the hook and I’m flooded with all kinds of work. In the process of getting my customers taken care of that spinning wheel hung on the wall as a constant reminder that I had unfinished business.

The holidays were coming up fast too and the Hillbilly Hat Rack was a gift for my step-father that had been requested for a long time. And it provided an opportunity to dance with creativity (i.e., live in the gap). In reality, other people and projects, while seeming like a necessary distraction, were just a form of procrastination. It’s humorous that procrastination doesn’t feel like doing nothing when you’re doing something else.

I’d like to blame the struggle on other people, but they were just a mask for fear. This is a struggle that I am not alone with. I hear others talk about fear all the time. Mortise & Tenon Magazine has the best catch phrase: “Craftsmanship is Risk.” It isn’t just about the risk of wasting material or of starting over. It’s a risk of learning something about yourself. Too much of our identity is wrapped up in our ability to perform a certain task. If you’re not making something there is no risk, but the downside is that you’re not making something.

And that loss of interest? It probably has nothing to do with losing interest at all. I think it has more to do with an attitude. If I accomplish something once, instead of celebrating that I’ve learned something new, I turn skeptical. It must have been beginners luck. Here’s the catch, confidence comes with repetition, but repetition doesn’t happen with a loss of interest. It’s self-sabotage.

How do you overcome?

You get to work.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Alex Moseley says:

    Great post, Eric. Thanks for sharing your reflections on this project. Reminds me a bit of Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. His passage on finding and maintaining “gumption” became the framework for a daily woodworking practice that lasted a few good years, until a career change demanded my extra attention. It’s writing like yours and Jim’s, enthusiastic, honest and without ego, that has drawn me back in.


    1. Eric Key says:

      I read “The War of Art” not long ago and I think it came out in this post. I see “Resistance” everywhere now. It’s amazing how a book can get you moving.


  2. oltexasboy says:

    Reality check here bud. It’s not lack of interest, it’s fear. When you sort of need to get something done that you don’t know exactly how to do . You don”t lose interest in some thing that you like and can do easily, you lose motivation to to continue doing what is uncomfortable. When you accomplish a task that involves learning a new skill, you get all atwitter and tingly but when you “climb that mountain” once. After that you are afraid that you won’t be able to do it again. Saying “I can do that” or I know how to do that, now(moving on), without being willing and able to duplicate it many times as well or better than the first time is fear.Doing something once is luck, doing it twice is learning, doing it 3 times is skill. You got to ask your self ,do I want to be good or lucky. There are times when is lucky is good enough other times it’s just not. Just nut up and do it, you’ll be glad you did.

    Courage young fellow.


    1. Eric Key says:

      Best advice ever!! Thank you.


  3. Todd Reid says:

    I totally understand what you’re talking about. I am retired from the Army, 100% disabled from service with PTSD. Everyday that I don’t have something to challenge me in the shop I have a hell of a time going out there. As you know I have base molding to install. I still don’t have it finished. You have to “Just Do It!” Good luck.


    1. Eric Key says:

      Well, maybe you need a little accountability…funny thing is that if you went and finished that base you’d probably feel pretty good about it. It’s odd how we forget that accomplishing a task can make us feel satisfied. Imagine if we forgot that food made us feel full? So you’re going to squeeze in a few moments this weekend to knock it out right?


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