Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Today, I was just finishing off a new spoon that I was carving when the end of the bowl popped off. I had been carving the spoon for a couple of hours, following a couple of hours work the day before. It was nearly finished, so I was pretty near to the maximum time invested in it when it failed.
When it failed, I surprised myself by not unleashing the torrent of curse words and emphatics that usually accompany a failure of this sort. In fact, it was kind of an “oh well” moment.
I said that I was surprised, but on second thought perhaps I should not have been. Spoon carving is green woodworking and, as such, uses hand tools exclusively. It is methodical, nearly silent, and above all tactile. The piece is turned over and over in my hands before and after each cut. And with each cut I can see, hear, and feel the blade slicing through the wood and removing the shaving. It is very satisfying work, and creates a zen like feeling wherein the process becomes all consuming. I have no doubt that it lowers my blood pressure and calms my nerves.
That’s why I probably shouldn’t have been too surprised at my calm acceptance of the failure, when the spoon was so nearly finished. Perhaps the spoon was my mandala; doomed to be destroyed at the moment of its completion.