In Myself

Occasionally, I meet someone who seems to see my way of life (practicing a craft that takes skill, working alone, making pieces of unique furniture and wooden objets d’art) as a marvelous alternative to the pressure-packed life they have. This person might work in a large corporation where he or she is just a name or a number. His or her situation in life because of illness, lack of resources, or power seems to be insensitive to their personal needs and ideals. Their voice seems to rise in silence and a lack of response. At least, this person thinks, this craftsman is valued and heard in his situation.

The temptation for the person who feels trapped is to get off by him or herself. He or she wants to narrow down life so that the controls are more available and the personal contributions are valued. A false dichotomy is set up where I seem to find myself by separating from others.

I’ve recently been thinking about a poetic line: “I wandered lonely as a cloud…” It was written by Wordsworth in “Daffodils”. It is deft in its uniting of solitude and our existence with others. The cloud sees some daffodils massed together, and the poet ends like this, “For oft, when on my couch I lie/In vacant or in pensive mood,/The flash upon that inward eye/Which is the bliss of solitude;/And then my heart with pleasure fills,/And dances with the daffodils.”

When I am truly in myself, I find the life-affirming connections that exist between myself and others. My value comes from those connections, not their eradication. The trick for me is not to let the impersonal forces around me drive me away from myself into a vacant room, but into the oneness that exists all around me. One day I shall have to lay down my beloved tools.  It’s that oneness that will never change.