I live in a peculiar section of Southeast Pennsylvania. Roughly, I live around 35 miles outside of the city of Philadelphia, where I grew up. The area I live in now is peculiar in the sense that if you drive just a few miles north you will be in the heart of suburbia, with tree-lined housing developments and shopping centers. If you happen to drive a few miles south you are in the “country”, with rolling fields, farmland, and stone houses built in the 19th century. My wife’s cousin happens to live in that area, it is an area I’ve wanted to live in for much of my adult life. Yesterday we spent Easter there, and on the way home I looked with envy on some of those houses, not so much because of the houses themselves, but because most of those houses had a nice sized piece of property that happened to have a barn or workshop. I’ve wanted that barn for a long time, long before I ever woodworked, or even thought of woodworking. It was an idea etched in my mind as a young adult that is still there to this day.
As we were making the short drive home I found myself a little saddened because I knew that I was already past the point in my life where I would eventually move to my “dream house” with the barn/workshop. Call it a mid-life crisis if you will, but it is very real, and it is not a good feeling.
I haven’t woodworked much lately, not how I would like to at least. The other day I glued up the blocks for the plane I am currently making. I did a sloppy, rushed job, far too sloppy and rushed for somebody at my level. Tonight after work I went straight into my garage to start cleaning up the plane. I wasn’t in there for ten minutes when both my wife and daughter were calling me. I quickly cleaned up the mess and went to see what they wanted me for, and that was the extent of my woodworking. Ten minutes was all I got; ten minutes to last a week, or maybe a month.
I wanted to woodwork tonight; I wanted to woodwork over the weekend. Even in my cramped little garage that is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer; I wanted to woodwork and I couldn’t. It seems like I can’t woodwork anymore for a lot of reasons. My time is no longer my own, even a brief ten minutes after an eleven hour work day has become a lot to ask.
Of course I don’t need to woodwork to survive. I don’t make my living from building furniture; I’m just a hobbyist. In fact, unless you purchase only high-end custom furniture, it makes much more financial sense to buy furniture rather than make it. So while I don’t need to woodwork, I want to woodwork because it makes me happy. And while I don’t need that idyllic barn/workshop, I want it if for no other reason than to validate 25 years of hard work.
On the nicest day we’ve had in my area in almost 8 months I wanted to open my garage door, woodwork for a little while, and enjoy the warm evening breezes of early spring. It didn’t happen. Like every morning, every afternoon, and every weekend, I was rushed. Rushed by my job, rushed by my family, and rushed by life itself. Tonight I didn’t want to be rushed for just a while. I was, and I’m not too happy about it.