Greg and I built a drum studio in our garage. With the help of a contractor friend we tackled many parts of the project: framing, insulation, drywall, primer, paint, underlayment, heated tile, cork floor, baseboards, and window framing.
This was an extraordinary experience. It took a long time and while it was happening it was as if everything else in our lives stopped, or at least got shoved firmly into the back seat. Even on the lower activity days, somehow all of our energy went into to bringing the project (essentially the fulfillment of a dream) to completion. It was gratifying but painstaking work, all the more so because we are not experts and we see this as a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking.
For me, when I take on projects that feel like a full court press, each day usually becomes a series of to do lists. You simply finish one thing and move on to the next. But during this project there were times when the work I was doing, particularly with my hands, guided my somewhat scattered mind to a place where it could really contemplate the great tectonic movements of life. One of these moments happened as I was sanding and refinishing two amazing reclaimed wooden doors.
One of the more unique aspects of the human experience is making complicated choices, both consciously or unconsciously. It’s easy to envision the big decisions in life as a series of doorways and thresholds that can lead to new beginnings, different destinations and even great transformation. Though not always pleasant, they are unique and beautiful places to be because of the view they offer. Here, we can see both where we are now and the new space we are considering entering. It’s a unique space where one can check in and see the things in one’s self that have evolved, the things that have stayed constant, as well as what might become.
So, there I was with an exquisite one-of-a-kind door in front of me, sander and stain at the ready, preparing to go to task. It was simple work, and I had everything I needed. I was protected in my particulate mask and gloves. I knew exactly what to do and was ready to get to it. I wanted to check another thing off my list. I was expecting the work to be pleasantly hypnotic, and it was at first. But then I realized, as I envisioned myself passing through this door laid out in front of me, that I was about to have the rehearsal space of my dreams. I could feel the abundance that was all around me in a way that I’m not sure I believed was possible. I was beyond happy, but I was also hit by an epic wave of insecurity. Once this space was ready, there really would be no excuses. It would be time to get cracking and get on with the business of life, and I was not sure I would be able to do that. It had taken so long to get to this place and I felt so exhausted by the process of seeing the dream through to its completion. Maybe it was residual burn-out that was working its way out of my system. I don’t really know. I can say that it felt like a crisis of faith.
This choice of words may be off-putting or seem too strong, but I have chosen them after a good deal of thought. In my yoga teacher training we talked about this concept called ishvara pranidhana. It is a sort of discipline where one does not expend energy or life force on worrying excessively about the future, not just because the stress of it is bad for you but because it is essentially a kind of denial of faith. The idea is that at a certain, healthy point (that I am still struggling to identify for myself) you let go and lay it “at the feet of god”, trusting that what you need will always be there for you. You don’t lose sleep, you don’t move through your life and your interactions with others distracted and half-present. You are your best self and give your best to others without this burden.
The doors have been finished for a few months now, and our studio is set up and in use. Little by little our creative flow is coming back, aided by the challenging and creative projects that have already presented themselves for the months to come. I am grateful for the studio and for what the process of building it has taught me. Every time I walk through the door I worked so hard on I think about the decisions I’ve made and those that are still to come.
When the next door presents itself I hope savour all that the threshold has to offer rather than worry over it. If this door is closed, I hope I try to open it. If it’s locked, I hope I try to find the key before simply giving up and moving on. If I believe a door is there, but I cannot yet see it’s outline, I hope I can bear to linger until it reveals itself to me. And, if I know there is no door, but I desperately need there to be one, I hope I discover that I have the strength to create it.
This door helped me to understand something in myself that I couldn’t see the whole of. I am glad that I took the time to smooth its surface. I feel like some of its new lustre may have rubbed off on me.