I have worked with wood practically my entire life. I recall seeing my father constructing a bedroom in a new home in New Jersey when I was a kid and marveling at his ability to create that space from nothing. I had Scottish relatives farther back on my Mother’s side who were skilled woodworkers, so sawdust is probably in my blood. I carved neckerchief slides for my scarfs in Boy Scouts. I made projects in my woodshop classes, and I tinkered and created sawdust until the tools grew into my hands.
Upon moving to Arizona, I began to actively learn the higher skills necessary to build cabinets, furniture and more when I worked in a cabinet shop in Cornville. I developed a friendship and worked with an amazing Sedona woodworker who not only had mastered the machinery of the craft, but was a remarkable designer. Over the years, I sought out others and picked their brains all while slowly creating a workspace in which I could do my own work.
At the same time, my path in Zen Buddhism took root after many years of being what I call a “nightstand Buddhist” –lots of books on the subject on my nightstand, but no real practice. Eventually, I developed a regular meditation practice, finally finding a teacher and becoming a Zen monk.
As my Zen practice and my woodworking skills grew together, true change occurred in my life and my work. The rhythm of the shop coincided with the mindset of Zen, requiring deep attention to “this very moment.” My introspective character ripened with my practice and eventually became inseparable from my craft.
I believe that as we age, we have the opportunity to move from the hectic pace of youth and middle age into a period of Mastery. Such Mastery is a slower process that uncovers much of what life has brought to us through its many lessons.
Now as I work, I ensure my efforts reflect the twin aspects of Zen, that which awakens us to life “just now,” and to Mastery, using the lessons of life and time. The results, I hope, are evident in the work I produce.