Monday, May 20, 2013

Le Vrai Roi Roy!

My Small Tribute to Roy ©Antique Refinishers, Inc.
A true philosopher is a person who is in touch with his immediate surroundings and understands the complex relationship between the physical existence and limitations of the human body as well as the unlimited rational and spiritual potential of the human mind.  For countless centuries, philosophers have been driven to develop a complete cosmology that would help to explain simple existence.

It has always been summarized by the running joke which ends up with the person climbing the hill and asking the guru  who is sitting at the top of the hill the same question: "What is the meaning of life?"  The punch line varies from story teller to story teller, depending on their agenda.  In fact, there is never a clear answer to this question, as the true meaning of life is constantly evolving.  It is the process of living that defines life, and the ends do not justify the means.  In fact the end is the same for all of us.

What matters is "how" you live your life.

It is also important "when" you live your life, as those events and people who surround you and influence you must be considered as significant contributors to your understanding of your "purpose."
"No man is an island" is another common expression, and it is true, unless you were raised by wolves actually on an island.

I am fortunate to live during the same time as Roy Underhill.  His career and teaching has touched literally thousands and thousands of people, and they are changed forever by his unique approach to life.  I still remember the first time I saw him on television.  There was no laugh track.  There was no quick edits to distract from what he was doing.  There was no diversion.  It was simply a man working a simple material, wood or iron, and telling a story about how and why it was done that way.

Like the Shaker expression: "Hands to work."  I was fixated as I watched him work and sweat and talk and bleed, constantly in motion, always on task, guiding the viewer step by step through the ancient process of creation.  For the past 30 years The Woodwright's Shop has remained one of the most important "reality" shows on television.  There is nothing fake about Roy.

Meeting Roy and working with him on his show years ago was not only a great influence on my life but a verification that my belief in hand tool methods was important and worth preserving.  Walking with him through the native hardwood forests which surround his home was, for me, a humbling experience.  His understanding of his surroundings and ability to communicate his knowledge in clear concepts allowed me to appreciate the subtle meaning of nature and man's relationship to nature.

After all, I was born and raised in Southern California.  Our "native" hardwood forests are all planted in front yards by residents.  There is nothing more artificial than the environment that has been created out of the desert in SOCAL.

I am thinking of all this today, since I discovered a  VIDEO on the web which is an interview with Roy.  He is older and wiser these days, not much slower, and just as involved with his career as he ever was.  He remains a leader in a historic movement which has persisted through time.  To me, the old joke is slightly changed: As I climb the hill and reach the top, seeking truth, I find Roy sitting on a stool he has just made from a tree, with his axe resting beside him.  "What is the meaning of life?" I ask.

Roy simply replies, "Work with your hands."

Someday, his hat will rest in the Smithsonian Museum, and we can all thank Roy for his wisdom.

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