Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Working wood is always a rhythm. The mallet strikes the chisel, then raises up, then strikes it again. The hand plane sweeps the board, pulls back, then sweeps it again. The saw pulls, then pushes, then pulls once more. Again, and again, and again. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
Even the wood, if you look closely, is made from rhythm. The rings are a repetitive story of robust growth and protective retraction. Of summers when the sap flows freely and the leaves are green and broad, gathering sunlight-food as if there is no end. But then, always, winters, when the light fades to a dim gray, when one must pull back and harden and protect, wondering if the sun will ever return.
Our stories, like a piece of wood, are built of rhythm. How many times has your heart contracted and expanded since it was first formed. A million? A billion? How many days have you spent in the light, followed by nights in the dark, followed by days and nights and days and nights? Ten thousand? Twenty?
How many seasons of plenty have you lived, where love and safety and money and creativity seem to flow like infinite, endless sunshine on branches of wet, green leaves? And how many winters of hunger, where loneliness and fear and scarcity and sadness seem to be all there is and all there ever will be?
Repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
We know, if we've lived long enough with open eyes. We know instinctively that our lives are like working a hand plane, like a heartbeat, like the seasons. Our lives get better, and then they get worse, and then they get better, and then they get worse. No life is exempt from these rhythms any more than a tree is exempt from the seasons.
Look again at the growth rings in a piece of wood. There's your proof. There's your story. If you are full of summer right now, you will someday be overcome by winter. Or if winter has you under its heel, if it has you feeling gray and empty and anxious, know for certain that summer is coming soon.
Just look at the wood if you don't believe it. Look at those rings. Summer, winter, summer, winter. Again, and again, and again.