What different times we live in. Our society has really changed in the past twenty to thirty years in so many ways. For example, the tradition of passing down a skill from father to son (or mother to daughter) seems to be fading away, especially in regard to trades and crafts. I rarely hear, in my circle of peers, someone state that their father or grandfather taught me how to do something. (Disclaimer: the previous statement was a generality; I personally know some exceptions to the rule). Perhaps I will expand on this at a later date.
I have a bad habit of reading many books or magazines all at the same time, and it just so happens that I have seen a common tread to what I have been reading lately. The thread is that more and more woodworkers are learning their craft by self-taught trail and error, television, and the Internet. I put myself in that category. (Thanks Norm!) The part of the group that I believe is dying away is the group who learned via generational teaching. Not trying to be bias against my daughters, but I really hope my son will want to learn woodworking from me. My father exposed me to music from an early age, and my love and knowledge of music has stuck with me all my life. I truly believe that exposure to art, music, crafts and trades from an early age really gives you an edge later on. Observation and exposure are key, but it has to be fun too.
The group of people I envy are the lucky ones who get real schooling and real apprenticeships in their trade. As I have said many times, I wish I could attend the RISD furniture program, or get into an apprenticeship program. I recently read a very interesting article in the Winter 2010 edition of “Woodwork” entitled “Aled Lewis – Transitions” by Patrick Downes. It talks about the life and work of Aled Lewis. We learn about his early training in England, and his life in the commercial furniture making business and about being an independent craftsman. I realize that not everyone in the furniture business ends up like Aled Lewis, but man, what experience to have.
I know in my deepest heart that I was meant to work with my hands, and I was not put on this earth to crunch numbers all day behind a computer. But I’m too far down the road with my family and finances to quit the day job (which pays for the mortgage and medical insurance), and thus jeopardize my family because of my dreams.
In my daydreams, I think about building a successful furniture making business with my children and other family members at my side. Even if my one of my children really wanted to be a full-time furniture maker, craftsman, or artist, would I wish upon them the possibly of living a hard life with little money? I think about that a lot. Unless I hit the lottery, my life is locked down, but would I, or could I give up the security of a day job to do what I love, what I am passionate about? Would I want my child to be happy in their G_d given talents with the possibility of living a life from paycheck to paycheck, or rather should they cage their dreams for stability? Tough call.
If you could go back to your youth, what would you do?
Note: I think I could write a large article about this topic, so be thankful that I didn’t!