As many of you know, I am pretty new to wood working. I started last Christmas with a borrowed scroll saw and a corner of the basement. That has grown. My very generous friend is slowly upgrading his hand and stationary equipment and as he does, he allows me to “store” his old equipment at my house, just in case he ever needs it. This same very generous friend has friends who have been very generous to me, as well. This is all over whelming for me.
I have an 8X8 space in my basement that I use for my bench sander, drill press, bandsaw, scroll saw and dremel. It also houses my art supplies, drawing desk and craft bench. The addition of numerous boxes of scraps of hardwood, a shopvac for dust collection, small hand tools, fasteners and hardware and a 300 pound man leaves so little space my projects have to be no bigger than a shoebox.
To make matters worse, I am not great at putting things away and staying organized. I used to pretend that I had a system, but I have come to accept that my natural tendencies are inclined towards chaos and that if things are important to me I have to invest the time and effort.
So I decided to organize things and make my space more useable. This involves three things that I find really difficult.
1) I was going to have to sort things that up until now have been sorted by the “will it stay in that heap or this pile” system
2) I was going to have to decide which things were going to be kept closest because they will be used more often, and which things will get placed in less accessable places
3) I am going to have to give some things up
Right now, my little space is so upside down that there is hardly room to move. I know that things will get better, but right now things looks so much worse than they were before I started cleaning. It seems wrong, but cleaning up makes such a mess. I know that I wasn’t happy with the way things were, but in the middle of this craziness, the old mess actually seems good. Now there is nothing to enjoy. There are piles of must keep stuff, piles of I would like to keep stuff, piles of I wonder if I should keep stuff and a tiny pile of stuff to throw out. I looked around my space and started to feel panicked that there wasn’t going to be enough room for me to do what I wanted to do with my stuff. I was moaning about how I don’t have enough space to keep all of “MY” stuff when I realized that very little of this was really “My” stuff. Borrowed tools, donated wood and everything else scrounged and reclaimed at little or no cost. Almost everything in my shop was paid for by someone else, yet I still enjoy all the benefits of ownership.
Maybe the shop cleanup needed to start with a little perspective clean up on my part. I wonder if I have been storing gifts in a heap or leaving them uncared for in piles. Maybe I was allowing self concern to take a place of importance when it really needed to be pushed aside for things that I should use more frequently like generousity and gratitude. I know there are things I am going to have to give up and I was going to have to start with something a little more precious than a couple of board feet of lumber. You see I have all the benefits of ownership of my life even though it was paid for by someone else. That is something that I have to remember in the messiness of life. Sometimes perspective cleanup makes a big mess of things. Sometimes perspective clean up makes us miss the old mess, even though we weren’t happy with the way things were. Regardless of how much worse the mess may get, as long as we are working, we are one step closer to things getting better.
I have been unable to work for over a year now. I was a workaholic and I wanted to change the world, every day, in everyway. Things were a mess. This time off work has forced me into some pretty serious perspective clean up. I can’t do the things i used to do physically, but in the mess that followed not being able to work so many hours, I found a cleaned up marriage. In the sorting that came with deciding what I could and couldn’t do, I prioritized more time with the my kids. In the giving up the selfworth I pinned on my value as an employee, I found my real value as a man. I am not even close to being content with the way things are in my life, It sometimes seems like I am trading one mess for another. But I feel confident that as long as I keep working, no matter how bad things seem to get I will always be one step closer to thing being better.
-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.