I got there early, and there were only about three guys at the table, but they were on their second or third cup of coffee. So, the conversation was already moving along nicely.
Actually, I only knew one guy, but anyone can jump right in and give their two cents worth at Grumpy’s Diner in Madison, Florida. Today they seemed to be talking about regrets they had in their life’s work. At least two of them were. The other guy was a life-long farmer and still was, and he felt great about that. The other two had good-paying jobs, one working for the state and the other an insurance company. They both thought they had wasted their lives working at a desk.
I thought about the three of them, and I could understand how that farmer still felt good about what he was doing. I remember years ago hearing that one of the guys in our VFW died while plowing his field on his tractor, and how many of the other vets thought that was a good way to go. He was in his 80s at the time of his death.
Well, I sat there thinking about that farmer dying while working his field. I bet after all those years he didn’t even have to think about what he was doing. He was just doing it.
Then I started thinking about how I work in my workshop. After all the years I have put in, I don’t have to think about what the next step is or what tool I need to use or how to set up that tool. Everything just flows. When I get in that zone, I don’t get tired, I feel good, and things just come together like I want them to. At least that is true with things I have made before, and I guess that is why I always get an itch to try making something I have never made before or use different woods, or different finishes. I still like learning new things, new ways of building things. Working in my shop never gets old.
So, as I sat there listening to those guys talk about their regrets about what they chose to do in life, I feel I have done well. No, I didn’t get rich, and when you work for yourself, there is not a pension plan, but also there are no lay-offs and you never have to quit if you don’t want to. I have met wood workers who have kept working into their late 80s. I look forward to that.
The table started changing people and the subjects changed, and I thought it would be good to get back to the shop and start something new. I have no idea what that will be, but when I start looking over the different woods I have, that will pretty much dictate what I will do. Sounds like fun to me.
I reread this, and I just wanted to tell you a bit more of what it is like to work in my shop. Like I said, I have every tool I think I need and some of them can hurt you if you are not thinking, so you have to pay attention. Which makes one think about ways of doing things with hand tools that are still sharp, but much safer. I usually don’t mass produce things as the repetitive steps get boring.
I have a lot of windows in my shop, and it is in the woods, so I can quietly work and keep an eye out for animals that show up that are a great source of entertainment. They do slow down production though.
A one-man workshop is filled with thought time. My thoughts, nobody else’s. When you work for yourself, you are in charge, and you have to put in the long hours when needed, and you can stop and just watch and think when you need to.
Yes, I picked the right thing to do in this life.
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