I was just watching the James Krenov Memorial on YouTube. It is a collection of friends and former students of the man, sharing their experiences with Jim, and what he meant to them. The memorial had taken place back in 2009 when Krenov died.
One of the speakers, Jack Bogdonovich, said something about his experience at College of the Red Woods, and working with Krenov, that really hit me like a ball bat between the eyes. It was because of how absolutely perfectly it described how I feel.
Among other notable descriptions of his time at the school and with Krenov, he mentioned this one little tid bit. It was almost in passing. He said that his experience was the first time in his life that he felt as though, what it was he was doing was not at odds with the world.
That single sentence perfectly describes how I feel about woodworking. It, from the very beginning, has been the one thing in my life that does not make me feel like I am in conflict in some way with the rest of the world. Perhaps this sounds a little self centered. Perhaps it is actually. However, the feeling itself, is palpable.
Its not so much that life for me is just one constant struggle, or that I am feeling sorry for my self or what have you. Instead, what I am attempting to describe is actually the one experience in my life where I feel no conflict. Absolute freedom and ability to settle into who I am and be comfortable with that person to my very core.
My marriage is very much like this feeling. A partner like my wife is like having won the lottery, to be sure. Though, a marriage is still an interaction between two people. A relationship HAS to have some conflict by it’s very nature.
No, the feeling I describe here, is the absence of any fear (save for the fear of spoiling some piece of truly fine wood), and the comfort I get in being able to manipulate that material into something fine, refined, and pleasing to the senses. The comfort of supreme confidence that I can enjoy in my shop. Nothing there but multiple opportunities to express, multiple variations of expression, and nothing there to erode the confidence.
Sure, someone may see the end product and not enjoy it, or whatever. That is much different. What I mean is that woodworking is, for me, the ultimate catalyst for focusing in on “the moment” and an exercise in true “mindfulness”. Not being a practitioner of Buddhism or meditation, woodworking remains the purest, most satisfying method of enjoying these two experiences.
In any case, I encourage anyone to watch the Krenov memorial service on youtube. It is long, about 90 minutes. but trust me, if you even have a passing interest or knowledge of Jim Krenov, it is worth your time to watch. It seems that the man continues to be the life changer that he was when he was alive. Certainly still a teacher, and fondly remembered by a great number of people……….often times people he never met, but still had a profound effect on.
Count me among that number.
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