For reals, if you enjoy woodworking and want something uplifting and thought provoking please, please, please pick up the book Handmade: Creative Focus in the Age of Distraction by Gary Rogowski. I often read books quickly and voraciously. This allows me to take in many subjects and ideas quickly, but sometimes I miss out on the finer details. As I’ve read this book I’ve taken a conscious effort to slow down and savor each and every delicious bite. I’m so thankful for slowing down to truly enjoy this one, it’s amazing.
There was a story in the book today that really gripped my interest and wouldn’t let my mind wander too far from it throughout the day. I’ll do my best to summarize and put it into my own words. The more and more I reflect on the story it keeps focusing my mind on the words grit and why. I hope you enjoy and find it as thought provoking as I did.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful old college in England that was founded in the the late 1300’s. When it was started they built a great commons area for the students. In the great hall were breathtaking oak beams. They were almost two feet by two feet and spanned about twenty feet. Such beauties like those are very difficult to come by.
Four hundred or so years later someone discovered that the beams had been infested by beetles, as oak has a tendency to have happen after many many years. The school was at a loss on how to find magnificent beams to replace the old ones. After much thought and consideration they contacted the school forester. As luck would have it the school had several plots of forest and they were hoping to stumble upon trees that would fit. Their call to the forester proved to be very interesting.
“Well sirs, we were wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.” The forester went on to inform the college that way back four hundred years prior to the call the college forester at the time planted a grove of oak trees. He passed on instruction to the next forester that they were to be saved and used only as the replacements for the beams. Over the course of four centuries the foresters passed this information from generation to generation.
Imagine that for a moment… For the length of each individual’s career they were trusted with the task of protecting those trees and passing on the knowledge. How many generations of foresters contributed to support this? Each helping to support a goal / dream / future that they would never see realized. With the exception of the final forester they did not receive accolades for their hard work and contribution. They did what was right and needed to be done without concern of personal success and reputation. They did it specifically because it was the right thing to do.
This really hits home for me as I continue to battle my own ego. I like recognition for my hard work and efforts. Why? This is so foolish. If I’ve put in the hard work why should it matter whether anyone notices or not, whether someone says something or not. At the end of each day. I go to bed knowing if I put forth my best effort on the right tasks in pursuit of the right purpose. My happiness and joy should not be derived from the compliments of others, rather from the knowledge and self-reflection of a job well done. This story will be one I call to mind often to help me temper my need to placate my ego with the compliments of others.