Someone once said to me – “love is like a block of wood. It means nothing by itself. Its only value comes from what you make of it.” An opinion that resonates like fact. Love by itself is too common to have any value, it’s just biological, just an emotion, just a word.
We’re two woodworkers, and between us, a block of love.
Unfortunately, though, we’re unskilled. We’re shaving away the wood from opposite sides of the block, and we’re both working on a different shape. Mine’s a sphere; you’re making a cube. When our tools sparked against the other’s, I wonder what you’re doing, and why you couldn’t have just told me. I don’t mind cubes. The sphere was arbitrary.
We continue the shaving, but you didn’t say we had a disagreement. Now I’m making the cube, and you think it is the sphere. We met again at the end, friction between the disjoint patterns.
I’d expect we would have learned from our mistakes enough to talk to each other, and it irks me that the third time, we’ve made the same mistake. I’ve misunderstood you, or you’ve misunderstood me. It seems so silly of us to keep doing this, isn’t it? I only ask you to speak to me, to tell me which of the two shapes I should cut. We’re both exhausted, after all, and we have so much work left on the polish, and the finishing. Couldn’t we just agree upon one shape and stick to that? It’s taking far too much time, and it’s far too taxing on the body. Share with me. We can cut the unpleasant job by half, rather than making it double. We both want the art we made to stand with us in the end. We have discussed what it looks like. We both say it’s beautiful the way we’re imagining it.
However, I’ve noticed something. We sweep away the extra woodshavings on the floor after every disagreement. We don’t let them darken the ground and constantly crunch under our feet. They lie in a corner pile, meant to be burned to ash after this job is done. The ash we’ll bury in some mud for our window-boxes where we’ll grow roses.
But the pile grows ever higher. We could make something beautiful out of a little ash, but so much of it? Every mistake of ours adds to the pile, and there are already a number of them. Refer to my note about us being unskilled. The shavings pile seems higher than our block of wood, and our whittling and refinement is only adding.
I knew it would, obviously. I’m not a carver for nothing. I don’t even have to be a carver for it, in fact, it’s common sense! Shaping the wood leads to the unwanted shavings.
Let’s step back to admire our handiwork. Our block of wood is almost gone without creating that magnificent sculpture that we had envisioned. Scattered around me are the shavings from that pile that’s spilled over everything – too large to be swept aside. If I set fire to it now, the ash will cloud every inch of this place. It will be a nightmare getting it all out, and perhaps some things I will have to throw away altogether. Worse, more things in here are flammable, and I don’t want those to get burnt. And yet, if I don’t do that – we’re both continuously walking all over the remnants of a dream.
Give me a solution to this, partner. It’s going to take a while for me to clear up enough space among the debris to keep a fresh block of wood, and I’m frustrated over the first one; unsure whether the second one will turn out any better. Give me a solution, partner, because I don’t want to whittle this away into nothingness, one chisel stroke at a time.