Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Births, deaths, tragedies, hangovers--these events have the power to remove us from ourselves, to provide a brief recess from the countless factors we're required to juggle at any moment.
Shaping grants me some of this same constricted focus, a break from the self-absorption that engulfs more than a few of us.
The word itself, shape, is onomatopoeic in the way it mimics a surform pass along the rail (ssshhhaaaaape!) or the slice of a finely-honed hand plane on a basswood stringer (ssshhhhaaaaape!), or the slash of fin through the thin lip of a cresting wave (ssshhhhhaaaaa) followed by the ping of water droplets (ppppeeee) on the flat water behind.

The Twin Keel Fish pushed me out of the water and into the shaping room ten years ago. Early on it was about the buzz: the joy of creation, the thrill of new tools, and the fear of screwing up perfectly good foam all provided a heady rush in the shaping bay.
Now, it's about the calm, the meditation, the quiet.
I was reminded of this transition--from frantic to tranquil--while shaping Rob's twin keel last week, as well as how shaping itself has altered my life.

Parenthood (you knew this was coming) grants us a similar opportunity. We are shaping a young life and, in turn, we are being shaped in the process.
California writer Gary Snyder's poem Axe Handles captures the moment where the speaker, when showing his son how to make an axe handle with an existing axe, realizes that in modeling a shape, he is also modeling his life to his son.
I love the simplicity of this idea. If we all keep in mind the notion that we, ourselves, are models for future generations, that we are axe handles or shapers, then maybe we will exercise better behaviors when a kid burns us in a crowded lineup, or a beginner ditches their board in front of us, or a stranger shows up at our favorite semi-secret spot.

We are shapers, every one of us. The foam of our futures is spotless, unlimited in its possibility.


turtle said...

RS-So well put! Your insight into the experience, it's relationship to all of life and your ability to articulate it so skillfully with words, makes me long to feel one of your craft under foot.

HeadHighGlassy said...

Thanks, Turtle. Hopefully, that will be possible some day.