A Word on Wonder

Some months back, close friends asked my wife and me to be godparents to their youngest son, Declan. I was humbled, and wanted to do our friends—and my godson—proud. Despite my questionable character, I immediately decided that I would try to be a good influence on the youngster and perhaps even impart some wisdom to him. But in spending more time with this amazing infant, I realize that I’m the one who’s getting schooled. Declan has inspired me to try to adopt some of his still-unconditioned behavior. No, I’m not putting into my mouth whatever I find on the floor, but I am practicing cultivating the boy’s child-like wonder in my day-to-day life.

Children are relentlessly curious. Unburdened by opinion and cynicism, they appear fixed in a state of wonder, which seems rather sage for people who wet themselves. Nevertheless, I’ve been practicing this alternative perspective as best I can. At the office, at home, and among friends and family, I grant myself amazement at what we typically consider mundane. I find that it makes me more mindful of the world around me, and more grateful for all that I have.

I carry this attitude-adjustment into the shop as well, striving to tap into the inherent wonder of our medium while performing something as simple as hand-planing a board. I pause to savor the sight and scent of a cedar curl sprouting from my smoother in the same way that I might scrutinize a newfound tulip in my backyard. I find myself marveling that such relatively simple tools can convert a rough plank into a dead-square board. In the right state of mind, my shop seems a bit like a wonderland filled with remarkable things. 

Woodworkers tend to be an inquisitive lot. For many of us, it was a curiosity about how things work and fit together that sparked our flame for woodworking. Surrendering to wonderment feeds that fire. So go ahead and be astonished at the magic in your woodworking hands. We’re here to help. Plenty of wonders await on the pages ahead if you’re open to them. You’ll find projects, techniques, and stories to inspire and capture your imagination. 

As for Declan, you can bet that I’ll invite the boy into my shop as soon as he’s old enough to not drool on my tools. I don’t have to wonder whether we’ll learn a great deal from each other. 

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