|A dam koala... A koala I saw on a visit to a dam.|
My obsession with woodworking started from when I was a teenager, or perhaps even younger. See, I was always a nerdy kid, the kid who preferred going to the library at lunch time, and absolutely dreaded phys ed class. I wasn't good any activity that was physical, and I didn't enjoy it at all. I did, however, really enjoy visual and literary arts, and once I was introduced to it, I fell in love with manual arts too. Suddenly I enjoyed something that wasn't purely intellectual – and it didn't matter how good or bad you were, most things could be fixed somehow. I did manual arts for 3 years in high school, dropping it for the senior years to focus on the academic stuff. I remember I told my mum and siblings that one day I would become a doctor and I’d buy a house and in my house I’d have a workshop and then I would take up woodworking again.
Well, here I am. Coincidentally the house I bought happened to have this room at the back of the garage that, well, someone could turn into my workshop. And that’s what I've been doing. That’s what I do when I get home from work and on my days off. I recently took a 2 week holiday in which I think I spent 80% of my waking hours in that room. A large proportion of the remaining time was spent buying tools. And you know what? I had a great few weeks. It gave me a new focus and clarity to return to work and the rest of my life.
I read a woodworking blog once where someone asked, ‘what have you learnt from woodworking that also applies in general life?’ I made a light-hearted note recently when my router stopped working suddenly just as I was preparing to fix it to a table, that some things would rather die than lose their freedom. That was a joke, of course (for people like me), but a more memorable quote I once read said that a master woodworker isn't one who doesn't makes mistakes, but one who can cover up their mistakes well. And that’s more like my style of philosophy: Everyone stuffs up; what matters is what you do next.
But, yes, the obsession part of this, as was pointed out to me, is I spend a lot of time buying tools, doing random odd jobs in my workshop, and watching, reading, and attending woodworking shows/magazines/videos. A LOT of time! My plants are going unwatered. I get itchy at work to go home and work on some unfinished project when I have gaps between seeing patients. I've had to re-calculate my budget to try to stop myself from overspending on tools and things for woodworking. I've been neglecting my own blog and reading so many woodworking blogs. It’s ironic, yet at the same time I think I’m finally learning about the importance of balance. When my life isn't just work, it is so much more enjoyable.