E-steddfod: The Craftsman

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The Craftsman


When I came by there, I saw several chaotic piles

of waste wood and detritus. I sensed decay – and mould.

I went cold just looking at the mess.


There were heaps of sawdust everywhere –

much of it gray from age.

And cut ends. And wreckage.

The entire vista disturbed me.


Off to one side,

I saw great stacks of works of art and artistry…..

things of comfort to the eye and body.

They settled me, while the chaos I had first seen –

only disturbed me.


Then I heard the whine of saw

and the curse of a man bent on creation.


I met the builder.

I was interested in prices. And warranties.

As my eye drifted to the great heaps of new furniture

and lawn ornaments,

he spoke ……… of meaning.

He told me of the trials and rewards of creativity.

Not having customers for his creative work,

he had to survive on the sale of trash.


I asked how could there be no customers

for work that would grace any home.

Surely – said I – what he produced

was as good as could be had in the realm.


He nodded, and shook his head wearily.

I felt at one with this craftsman

who had such an unappreciated skill. Such talent

with no one to bring him the recognition and reward

he so obviously deserved.


As we sat down, and shared a cup of tea…….he

said: “I have learned it takes little talent

to mould something from nothing.

And they pay me far too much

when I sell something that takes so little from me.”

I did not understand.


Nor did I understand

when he added………………..

that he was far better at building nothing

from something. “I have such difficulty,” he said,

in making that which is without utility.


“My best work I understand the least.

My triumphs bring me the pain of confusion, and doubt.


“When I am with my wood,

the wood speaks to me and moves my hands. What it crafts –

is that which it wants to be.

It does not build for anyone

but itself.

I rarely know what I am crafting.

But I do know when the craft is done.


“In this act of creation,

I am no more than an instrument.

I have no free will.

I do what I must do.

My work is for no one but the work itself.

It does not need appreciation –

to be fulfilled. Its meaning – is in its creation. 

I sell it with reluctance, because it abhors being held.

Often, I give it to the appreciative.


“If you are upset by my work,” he said,

“you are welcome to take something

from that great pile out front.

A contribution would be appreciated.

For materials.


“On the other hand, he mused,

perhaps you would like to buy a lawn chair?”

If you have no interest in art,

perhaps you would be willing to help keep me from starving?


Interested in managing without conflict – in your personal and professional life? Think that war is inevitable? Here’s my book on the way to peace.



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