My husband is building a barn. He’s been doing this for three years. Without electricity. Like paul bunyan. He took a class in timber frame building several summers ago and hired the teacher, who wears a long coat and looks like an amish preacher, to design it. Then he went into our woods and cut down all the trees he needed. And planed them smooth with an axe. Cut grooves so they could fit together. And piled them up…and piled them up… until he had enough. He thinks that this summer he’ll put it up.
Wow. That’s sticktoitiveness. Keeping your eye on the ball. three years of classes and axes and wood piles and a three dimentional, tinker toy puzzle of pine and ash and elm.
And always, always questions about completion. “Hey Gordon, when’s that barn going to be done?” “Hey Gordon, did you finish that barn yet?” After all, it’s been three years.
If I have a project, it’s small. hidden. I write where no one sees. Paper is flat. No one knows I’ve been working in dribbles forever and nothing’s done. No one says, “hey, mary….what about that book? Did’ja finish it?” it’s hidden.
But that barn? All that piled up wood? In plain sight.
I’ve never decided to do something I have no clue how to do. Particularly something big and complex and…. Wooden. Something that exposes my unknowingness. Something that turns me inside out to expose all the molecules of uncertainty and inexperience intertwined like a big tumbleweed buffeting along the highway.
After three years of doing this, my husband will turn himself right side out and he’ll have… a something. A Something big. That took study and gumption and a boatload of linament. We’ll have a barn raising with potato salad and a band in black pants and cowboy hats. People will hold their breath as it goes up and cheer as it stays in place becoming our own citadel of homemade pride.
what have I done in that same period? Twirled and whirled… and stayed in place. Like pig pen’s dust cloud. Oh, I made plans. was busy. But there were interruptions. Managing a life. Children. Dogs. Food. Bills. The dustcloud. But what was I really doing? What was I doing that he wasn’t?
Maybe it’s in the goal setting. That’s what he did. Deciding to do something so big and extraordinary that it trumps the everyday doingness of life.
But nothing to expose my soft underbelly. nothing I can’t hide. Nothing that places me on wobbly ground. Nothing big and red and messy and barn-like.
Wow. Come to think of it, I guess that Paul bunyan of mine is one brave guy.
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