A Twig's Life

I have a pretty big stick pile.

Leaf litter is slowly starting to accumulate around the house because I have "ideas".  I have lots of ideas...  Like any good hoarder, I see potential in scraps and find myself defending their storage.  As long as I do something with them, then they amount to more than trash matter, right? Or that's what I tell myself.  The truth is, I have a vision and that vision is generously being fostered by the fine folks at Knoll Farm where I am proud to announce I've been awarded a Better Selves Fellowship spot this August!  I am beyond excited!!!!!

My fingers are crossed that I make it to this Vermont refuge.  You never know the challenges when it comes to dementia caregiving, and deciding now that I will attend, will ultimately be determined in the hours, maybe even in the minutes before my departure.  But for fun, lets just go with it and assume I am going.  I am going!!! 

The fellowship is a nurtured self study of sorts.  Everyone attending will be on their own journey yet together, as a community, we will help each other achieve our goals.  My goal will be spoon related but more specifically I want to focus on carving.  And I don't just mean technique, although, I do hope to acquire new skills.  I want dive deeper into the other aspects of carving like knife care and sharpening but also the spiritual side.  I want to explore the intention, the meditation... 

There is something healing in the process of making a tool with your own hands.

I've long thought carving was meditative.  There is something healing in the process of making a tool with your own hands.  It's a placeholder for empowerment, slowly revealing that applied effort produces results and that ultimately, you can in fact do whatever you set your mind to.  It's so easy to surrender to hopelessness but the act of carving always provides a renewed perspective.  With each shaving you are reminded that you're closer than you think, a small echo in your head, akin to a mantra, tells you "keep going".  

As the shape begins to reveal itself, so do all the metaphors.  The "handle" usually appears first.  It's the comfort zone in skill development but then you get to the "neck" and the "bowl".  As with any neck, it's fragile.  You must maneuver delicately or risk breaking it, and I'm reminded of the similarities between these moments and life.  You go on thinking you have a "handle" on things only to realize at some point, your burdens are nearing a breaking point.  It (or you) might snap under the stress without care.  It's a reminder to nurture sensitive areas, a case not to neglect self-care... Then you get to the "bowl".  Perhaps you jump around while carving the spoon but I find the bowl to be one of that last areas of attack.  My students often avoid it till the end.  There is a different technique involved and it requires a different knife but non-the-less it's a critical component to making a spoon a spoon.  It's actually the single most identifiable trait of the spoon yet on the carver's journey, it's often left to the end.  

It's always an interesting pause at this point.  Questions arise as to what things we are avoiding in life?  What single task, if just accomplished, would make a considerable impact in how our days are lived?  What techniques or tools are missing so you can move beyond this block? Wait. Are we talking mental block or block of wood?  It's hard to keep up with the narratives...

I wish I could explain better the thoughts I have on this whole topic.  It's hard to write about carving and a general summery feels impossible.  I have so much to say but can't seem to organized the words for a reader and partly I think the words escape me because so much feeling is at play.  So much is left unsaid here and it's a huge part of why I will do whatever it takes to get to the Knoll Farm refuge and participate in the Better Selves Fellowship.  I know something there is waiting for me.  The mantra keeps telling me "just come"...