Someone asked me the other day if I had quit writing here. The obvious answer is that I haven’t posted here lately. What may not be so obvious is why. My aim is to answer that unasked question.
If you’ve been keeping up, which I doubt, you know that I’ve been taken out of active woodworking by an injury to my back which now prevents me from doing much of anything. It’s been nearly four months and I’m still unable to do much; almost nothing when it comes to working with wood. The inactivity has taken a toll on my body and I’ve lost over thirty pounds since the injury. The majority of that has been muscle mass, since I never carried much extra weight. While bathing this morning I got a good look at myself and was somewhat dismayed to see that I look more like a Holocaust survivor than woodworker. The future appears to hold another three months of this before I will be able to stand, walk, sit up straight or do much with my body.
Being the curious type I’m not one to do nothing. I use the time to educate myself in areas where I have interest. I’ve enjoyed calligraphy most of my life so I’m adding to and honing my skills. I’ve allowed my cursive handwriting to degenerate and I’m working on that. Because it’s all connected I’m developing other calligraphy styles at the same time. I’ve renewed my interest in edged tools and have been working on my sharpening and honing skills with cutting tools, not just chisels and plane blades. Having been educated in the era of the fountain pen I have been cleaning and tuning my fountain pen collection as I am able. It’s a little odd to have to clean pens in the toilet bowl, but it’s what I can reach so I make sure the bowl is clean. As human beings we are incredibly adaptable and I’m finding many ways to adapt to the conditions in which I find myself.
Catching up on reading has been enjoyable. Generally I read three or four books at the same time, switching between them when the mood strikes me. The Kindle makes this pleasant and easy. But, no one can read all the time. They eyes simply will not support the effort.
More importantly I have been using the time to purify myself spiritually. I meditate more, speak less, listen more and actively look for character defects to work on while in this somewhat tedious condition. My internal state has improved dramatically while my physical condition has declined, I would say less dramatically. The truth is I consider my internal state and spiritual health of more value than my outer condition and physical health. According to my value system this is the best time of my life. According to those who look only on the outer it appears to be some other way. This is part of the reason it’s never a good idea to judge by appearances. The long and the short of it is that I am happy and at peace, living lightly with few duties and establishing new habits that I am hopeful will carry me beyond this physical challenge to greater heights in all I do in what time I have left for me on this planet.
I hope, as you read this, that you are happy and well. There’s little point in being unhappy when your internal state is one of the few things over which you may have some control.