|Last Saturday I went uptown to see King Lear (w. John Lithgow and Annette Benning) in Central Park. It was a wonderful evening and as I walked to the theater I marveled at New York City's implementation of the age old idea of a public common. A Common, a patch of land, open to all to graze their livestock, and to walk alone amid the crowds. It is both social and private at the same time. People reading, people playing, couples in fond embrace. You are out and about with thousands of people, but your own little space is protected. People are social creatures and even though I didn't meet anyone I know I always feel more connected to the world when I am in a public park. |
The weather was perfect and open air theater was packed, but I left the play at the intermission (see below*). By then it was dark, everyone had gone home, the park was empty, I passed only one person on my way out, it was grand in its quiet.
I mention this because one attraction of woodworking to me, back when I was first learning, was the common communal experience of sharing a workshop.
There is an idea floating around these days of "Maker Spaces" where a company sets up places for "makers" usually with some high tech machines, but also with typical table saw machines. These are not just places to make something with tools an individual typically doesn't have of their own, they are more importantly a place to meet like minded people, to exchange ideas and to form a community. To a large extent woodworking schools have always preformed the exact same function. Of course woodworking clubs, rental shops, and also provide this vital place of focus. These are our maker commons. Even if you have the personal resources to own every tool on the planet working with others is so much more rewarding. Just driving with a buddy or two to a lumberyard and loading a truck together makes a truly laborious task go fast and fun. I can't stress how important community is.
The energy you bring to woodworking, the satisfaction of making things, is all very well, and lets face it most of the time practicality means we that work alone, but take your energy and enthusiasm, add it to a bunch of people who also have energy and enthusiasm, and you will learn stuff, you will find friends you never knew you had, and proving Newton wrong, all of you will have more energy than ever before.
Join a club, take a class for the fun of it. Read and participate in the on-line woodworking forums.
*The language is gorgeous, witty, even, dare I say, Shakespearean in both sophistication, exuberance, and understanding. But Lear himself is a jerk. I just didn't want to spend two more hours watching some King, who lost his temper and made some stupid rash decisions, continue a downhill spiral of self absorption and stupidity. And his daughter Cordelia? Would it have killed her to just make the old man happy in the first scene and tell him what he wants to hear, really, did she learn nothing growing up as a favorite princess about how powerful people rarely want to know what you really think? Even I know that and I grew up in a tenement.