What Am I Doing

At the behest of a good friend I am hesitantly returning to blogging. “You need to post something to your website,” she said. “But I am doing nothing but working my ass off everyday,” I replied, “what is there to share?”

The tiny dust particles that have usurped the built-up space in my lungs after so long on the road is but one consequence of my current decision. At times, particularly after taking just 2 days off in the entire month of April, it feels like I am working harder and at a greater level of stress than what I endured on the road. My last vacation was on Friday from 11 am until 8am yesterday morning, less than 24 hours off – 8 spent sleeping.

When I am covered in saw dust, beat and battered by unending hours in the shop, I confidently stroll into the local Home Depot or Lowe’s intent on my needs and my intentions. I know much better than they do what I am trying to accomplish and how it needs to get done. That confidence carries me steadfast through my days and my decisions. Yet, when the tedium of sanding or staining absorbs my actions, my mind always drifts toward the strange world I find myself in. I am a transient with multiple projects. One puts me on a bike with open roads to the end of the world; the other has me acting the independent contractor, building a career alongside with a kitchen. I often focus on one and feel guilty for dropping the other. Every day on the bike is fraught with new experiences and the freedom of unanswered questions: where to eat, what road to take, where to sleep, how to get out of the rain, when to stop, when to start? However, here and now, I feel much more confident in the process and the path of this project: build this cabinet, lay this floor, finish these doors, etc. I am tired but confident with today’s life, and less so with an open ended bike trip full of so much unknown (what, why). When I tip the scales this summer at 30 years old it is hard to find a fluid path toward my current position.

What I know. I put much more pressure on myself regardless of the project I am undertaking, and I always expect more out of myself than I am often capable of accomplishing. It is absolutely impossible to finish everything I expect in any given week. This leaves miserably short weekends to catch up, everything slowly falling through my fingers as I slap at the surface of the water trying to catch a breath. My to-do list is growing faster than it is shrinking and although the end of the project is near I can’t see it for the pile of wood in front of me. Half a dozen things need to be done to get a granite counter ordered, so while I pick one of those things to do, it is at the sacrifice of anything else getting done. It makes me feel like I am never working on the right thing at the right time. But, what I do see is each small step resulting in beautiful pieces that will come together to be a stunning kitchen. Often I finish a cabinet or a piece of furniture and feel like I have outdone myself. Those moments certainly drown out the stress of the project and awaken in me my interest and talent in what I am doing: building things, and improving living spaces for people.

When those moments are infrequent, my mind drifts back towards the freedom of the road. I remind myself that I am doing this in order to continue doing that, to suffer this so I can enjoy that. Today I make confident decisions to produce a beautiful project so that tomorrow I can confidently disappear to unknown experiences. Who does that make me, what does that make of me? I haven’t a clue – frustrating when approaching 30 years old – but liberating all the same.

One Response to “What Am I Doing”

  1. George says:

    Justin, nice to see you blogging again! Don’t worry – I’m 52 and still basically have no clear idea of who I am or what I’m doing. Just think Hansel from Zoolander and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how I’m rolling these days. Caitlyn is sitting next to me as I type this and we are both psyched to catch up on your thoughts. I spent the summer of 1978 in and around Targhee and have fond memories of that area. So enjoy the summer working and catching up with friends. There’s some chance that Susan and I will be in Bozeman in July so perhaps we’ll overlap there for beers and biking. I’ve told a few people at work about your awesome story of the Canadians that tried to steal your stuff and just couldn’t – they are, after all, Canadians. Too funny!



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