A Path Through the Woods

As boys, my brother and I were constantly getting lost in the woods. This was mainly because we thought that every space between trees that wasn’t grown up with brush constituted a path. Once we had gotten away from the edge of the woods, we were lost.

That happens when your reference is the path of least resistance. I once was asked to share with a group of college students what I thought about an art program that was being presented. I began by asking them how cattle were moved in a sale barn. Cattle are big animals and can’t be pushed or pulled anywhere very easily. What happens in a sale barn is that a space empties out in front of the animal, and the cow or bull steps into it. I asked the young people what was at the end of the line. They answered that it was the butcher. “So,” I said, “We can all see what happens if our rule of life is to follow the path of least resistance.”

That’s the way it is for me in furniture making. If I only take jobs that are (or seem) easy to start with, or if I only will work with people who seem agreeable all the time, I shall not be expanding my life in the directions that are most accommodating for it. I shall get lost. I must choose my path through the woods where I can grow as a craftsperson and as a member of my community. Therein lies my path through the woods.