Every so often life imitates art, or smacks you in the face, or something like that, and this past weekend I had a run-in with a little something I like to call ‘irony’.
Because I had to work on Saturday, and because we celebrated my wife’s birthday on Sunday, I decided that I wasn’t going to woodwork, at least not in earnest. So of course on Sunday evening I actually did attempt to begin my “Paul Sellers” dovetailed shoeshine box. To set the scene, we were planning a trip to the gym, I had about thirty minutes to kill, so I decided that I could at least get the tails sawn and the pins marked. Though I did manage to get that accomplished, that is not why I am writing this post.
Generally, if I am woodworking and performing an operation that I feel needs an “action shot”, I will ask my daughter to take the photo for me. So when this happens my daughter will take dozens of photos that I have to sift through to find the picture I am looking for. Usually the photos are an odd mix of pictures of her, the floor, the ceiling, the window, and occasionally me. The good news is sometimes she captures a candid moment, and on Sunday night she managed to do just that. Before I go on, let me flash back to Friday, when I happened to come across a photo of myself likely taken during the spring of 1991. I was 17 years old then, and thought I was pretty hot shit. I posted that photo on Instagram if for no other reason than as a bit of nostalgia.
Anyway, in one of the dozens of photos my daughter took, there happened to be one of me lining up the cut before the “action” commenced. In that photo I’m hunched over the boards, you can catch the flash of gray in my beard, and you can see that my eyes are straining (in my defense, my garage does not have the best lighting for woodworking). In other words, I look like one of the woodworking show “old geezers” you’ve heard me make fun of in the past. Contrast this with the photo of the young, wrinkle free, thin, beardless, gray-less 17 year old I just posted, and suddenly I don’t feel so young anymore. In fact, I think this is the first photo of myself where I honestly felt that I looked “old”.
For the record, I am 42 years old; I will be 43 this summer. I’m not sure how to define young, old, or middle-aged anymore. I know this, in June it will be 25 years since I graduated from High School. I’m not sure what that makes me, but I know I am no longer a kid, not even close unfortunately. And though I am no longer a kid, that still doesn’t mean I didn’t learn a lesson. And this week I learned to never look at a photo of myself when I was 17 and to compare it to a photo of myself at 42, and that was more important a learning experience than anything in the world of woodworking.