Monday, November 28, 2005

It’s all about the work…

Isn’t it?

There’s a certain sense of satisfaction in a job done, and especially in a job well done. Sometimes it isn’t even about money; it’s just about the work, the process of getting from where you are, to where you want to be. That, in and of itself, is a reward all its own at times.

I found myself thinking that on Sunday as I looked out the back door at the woodpile, safe from the rain that was falling, covered in a tarp I put over it when I finished Saturday night.

I felt the same sense of accomplishment I’d felt years before when putting in the wood up in North Bay. Although that process was a much bigger project, and spanned weeks rather than days, at the end, when that last piece of wood was tucked away in the woodshed, I’d feel like I’d really done something.

It struck me as I sipped my morning coffee and watched the rain fall that, for me, there’s this incredible feeling that goes along with getting a project finished. In being able to see the results of my labors, in having a tangible, visible result, which is sometimes missing in the work I do for a living.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a sense of accomplishment there too, but it’s different somehow.

There’s something in being able to see, touch, experience in all three dimensions, the fruits of your labors, that to me, is one of the sweetest moments in life.

I don’t know as I’ve really thought about it, exactly this way, in the past. But now that I have, it explains why it was so difficult for me to give up the work with tangible results, and pursue a trade where your results are often invisible to anyone except the programmer who follows you.

I remember like it was yesterday, that day, five years ago after we’d put the last coat of paint on everything and the carpet installers had left. Maryan and I were sitting on the front steps, drinking a beer, as the sun set, and I was looking through the front door at what we’d done.

I remember thinking that it looked like a new house, one that had just been built. A ‘model’ you’d see in a new development. I actually had vivid four color flashbacks to what it looked like before we started. How it looked after I’d torn out most of the ceilings and walls, and had about half of the roof torn completely off. The look on Maryan’s face when she first saw the destruction…

Then I looked over at her and saw she was gazing inside too, and had this little smile on her face. One that said to me… “Look at what we’ve done”… “I had my doubts, but he just kept at it, and I kept helping… Look at where we are now”…

You see she’d tasted it too… that sweet taste of success, of accomplishment… of finishing something many told you, that you couldn’t do… and yet, here you are, standing in the middle of what you’ve done.

I doubt I’m doing the actual emotion involved justice. If you’ve ever felt it, you know what I’m talking about, and you’re feeling it all over again. If you haven’t, well I’m not sure anyone else could ever really make you feel it in words. About the only thing I can say is go out and build something, do something, anything, do the best job you possibly can… and then enjoy your success.

It may not be the best birdhouse, paint job, floor refinishing, etc ever done… but it will be the best one you’ve ever done!! It will also be the worst one you’ll ever do, as each one you do after this one will be better than the one before.

In there lies the bittersweet taste of success. The knowing, that the next time will be better, and this will only stand as the best until you undertake another project. I choose to partake only of the sweet taste though, as it far out powers the bitter.

Do you get this feeling too? Does ‘not knowing how’ stop you from trying? Do you know why it does? If it doesn’t, why do you brave the unknown?


RealLady said...

and you did a great job! the final product is and still remains a fascination to me - how we put it all together in such little time. How it continues to change and become better. We did it and it is ours! Thank you Bill for never loosing site of your vision!

jenbeauty said...

The final product is always a great site to see!

Our floors are done and look fabulous. We did not paint the woodwork and am glad for it. Our house looks wonderful and I am so pleased.

Spirit Of Owl said...

Well, I do know what you mean, and I still get scared of jobs around the house. I seem to get worse, not better. Confidence is hard to come by when your saw lines are like snakes, your plaster looks like pebble dash, and your wallpaper looks like the walls are wearing a bad cardigan three sizes too small. Ah well, I actually am going to be doing some work in the kitchen next week, moving the sink, some electrical sockets, replacing a couple of worktops, and some units. It'll be interesting to see if I can even keep from weeping on the first day! :D

Bill said...

RealLady - Thanks baby... I don't know if I could have really finished all without your encouragement. There were some dark days (and nights) in those three months!! Not to mention the sheer exhaustion we were both feeling!

It was worth it though!

Jen - Congrats! I'm so glad the floors are done, and, that they look as great as you'd hoped they would!!

Spirit - I know exactly what you mean! It took me actually breaking down and buying a high quality circular saw before I was ever able to really make a straight cut!!

All my years of body work made the drywall finishing a lot easier... however, even now, I can look at some of the walls, that I thought were 'perfect' and see that perfection is a relative thing!!

You can always follow my rules, measuer three times, have the wife double check me, and *then* and only then, actually make the cut!!

Good luck on the kitchen project!

Firehawk said...


It's the process of creation that makes us feel as if we are alive and active in the world. It's always possible to get wrapped up in things that you could have done better, but whenever you look at something that you've done "with your own bare hands", it's a special feeling. A little bit of you lives in that otherwise inanimate item.

It's harder to take the plunge when you don't feel confident in your ability or knowledge, but when you muddle through and get something done with reasonable success, the payoff is bigger.

It's good to know that these thoughts and feelings are out there, part of the commonality of experience.

Bill said...

Firehawk - We do share an interest in the common human experience!

When I was much younger I often felt alone in the emotions and feelings I'd experience. Over the years I've discovered we're rarely, truly, alone in anything. (Except for maybe our thoughts)

You're just exactly right about 'creation' and feeling alive... There are times even when writing code... where fitting the pieces together, smoothly, seamlessly, brings an overwhelming sense of 'craftsmanship'... It's a feeling I hope I never tire of feeling!!

As always thanks for stopping by.

No_Newz said...

First off high five to you!
1. Do you get this feeling too? Only always.
2. Does ‘not knowing how’ stop you from trying? Nope.
Skip 3.
4. If it doesn’t, why do you brave the unknown? Because I ain't got nuttin' to lose! LOL!
Lois Lane

Bill said...

Lois - and a ^5 back at ya!

Exactly! I don't know why I used to be so paralyzed by trying things new... Funny thing is, all someone had to say was "You don't know how" or "You can't do that" or anything similar and I be off and running, just to prove them wrong!

I still do that, to some extent, but these days I do attempt to use a little bit of common sense (which is all the common sense I actually have... a little bit)

Jay said...

Unfortunately, I am always trying new things, and usually things that have a very high probability of failure. I can't help myself, and it's certainly not bravery in the face of the unknown, but simple curiosity that drives me.

Trevor Record said...

I guess I sort of do know the feeling. I don't build things so much, though. I've been pretty busy doing just about everything else.

But there's a lot to be said for rest. A psychic told me to slow down. I'm taking it into consideration.

Bill said...

Jay - I think curiosity, drives a lot of us, if we like to admit it, or not.

I have a fascination with how things work, have had since I was a young boy... which has led me to take apart nearly one of everything I've ever owned!!

Trevor - Painting, putting your first place togehter is all about 'building'... you're building your home... those finishing touches, that make it yours are every bit as important as the wood, nails and plaster!

Sleep is always a good thing, I think, I only sleep about 4 or 5 hours a night.

Jaxx said...

Not knowing how never stopped me from trying anything. If it's something I really want to do, no matter how frustrated I get during the process, once I figure it out and get cruising and ultimately finish, I'm on top of the world.

And if someone tells me I can't do something, It's on!

Bill said...

Jaxx - One more thing we have in common... we can't stand to be told we can't do *anything*!!

One of the things that keeps me trying new things is just wanting to know 'how'... I don't always feel the need, once I know, to always do it myself, but I sure love knowing *how* if I wanted, or needed, to!