Little by little
I just made a piece of furniture. I do some woodwork. I am not an expert, by any means, but it doesn’t matter because, sometimes, I am proud of what I accomplish. For example, I was beaming yesterday when I outfitted my daughter’s room with a window seat. I call it a “Lady-reader” because I believe that in French it is a “liseuse”, which is translated to “Lady-reader” in English.
It took me all day to put it together. And before that a solid three weeks to actually make it. A big big effort. Today, I woke up with my right shoulder singing in pain from so much effort and this is a glorious pain and this is a glorious day. Enough with that, this is not the purpose of this blog.
The purpose of this blog is this: no way I made window seat. No way. Too complicated. Too intricate. Too delicate. Too precise. I am not a carpenter. I am a drummer. I am not an engineer. I am a drummer. My thoughts are “Boom-Crack-Boom-Boom-Crack!” not, “Should I include the height of the mattress to compensate for the total size of the front drawers?” Again: I am a drummer.
When I started this “Lady-reader”, I had to decide what I wanted to put into it. “Now, there will be a long plank of wood where the mattress will be, I thought, and then I’ll do some storage space underneath”. But my wife an my daughter wanted some shelves also, to put some books. Their argument was simple: “If we are going to read, we need to have some books, don’t we?” All righty then, shelves it is!
Only those shelves complicated the project by tenfold. Because I needed a strong structure underneath the plank that will have the mattress, a structure that can support the weight of a person. Shelves are pretty, for sure, but not known for their strengthening qualities. Nonetheless, since it is a custom project, I need to comply to the wishes of the house, and the house said: “Shelves!”
Later on (The house had thought some more about it), I was asked if I could do some little tablets where you can put a drink, or a book, or whatever, some little shelf that’s retractable, you know, nothing to it. Two of them, please. One on each side.
All of the sudden my brain is in high water. That means drowning. “High water” means drowning.
This thing was becoming an impossible project. I can do a picture frame, I can even do an end table. This here “Lady-reader” was like building an amusement park.
No matter. I got my trusted pencil and sketched something I though I could manage.
First, you chose the wood. That’s the first step. I wanted something with a whitish color. Ash.
Then you build the carcass. Then you build the compartment. Then the shelf, etc…
One day for planing the wood, one day for measuring the plank. One day for sculpting the handle, one day for fitting the drawers. One day to see the work move forward at giant leap and you think you’re a genius, one day to not progress an inch as you get bogged down by your own mistakes. One day plus one day equal music. Is my point. By the way (No, I haven’t lost the general subject of this blog: music. I’m still of clear mind. Read on.)
When learning an instrument, it is not supposed to be fun, or anything else for that matter. It is just supposed to be life. Just life. The jungle of life, the complexity of life. I remember learning certain patterns for the headaches they were, for the overwhelming feelings I had . I remember my pains, that’s the beauty of my memories sometimes. Those are usually accompanied by pride. I remember climbing this mountain or conquering that territory. Those battles have transformed my once soft flesh into a hard wood. One day at a time.
I’ll say it again: I wasn’t supposed to be a drummer. Not at all. I am a donkey in music. Teeth and nail every step of the way. When I first started playing, my teachers told me to give it up, that I wouldn’t amount to anything in drumming. That was my introduction to this noble art, not “Oh, my, you’ve got a lot of potential, please step in!”
I clearly saw that I wanted to be a professional drummer. But what a formidable mountain to climb, what a nasty bear to wrestle! And, one day at a time, I slowly climbed that mountain, I furiously fought with the bear.
Woodworking is the same story. I started that journey by making cutting boards (One plank, two cuts, paf! you’re a genius!) and now I am taking on projects that are way above my pay grade. It doesn’t matter. I’ll keep climbing that mountain. I don’t mind it. It’s life. It’s supposed to be challenging. Music taught me that.