Shifting one’s viewpoint is usually difficult. Even as I write, I find myself standing in front of a wood lathe. The basic concepts are, for me, relatively self-evident. There is a block of wood. I want to change its shape. I have tools, often described as scrapers and gouges, for the change. The machine turns. I go to work. Each statement is true, yet they miss the broader point.
One can approach turning with an idea how things should and will work, or one can be a lifelong student. After my initial introduction to turning, I found an advantage. Knowing what I need to do makes things easy. I “know” what the solution is. The problem is that my solution worked. I could safely turn a bowl. The outcome was something that most had no idea how to accomplish. Given a lack of knowing what else might be, it was easy to feel good.
In response to my new enthusiasm, Cherry gave me a turning lesson with a master as a gift. He asked me to bring sample of my work and a selection of my scrapers and gouges. As he examined my tools and work, I found myself focusing on the sounds of “hmmmmm” and “aaaaahhhhhh”.
“What do you think?”
“With you permission, I would like to teach you how to use one tool in a new way.”
“Yes, unless you want to change what you are doing there is no point in teaching you something different.”
I had never thought of it that way. My permission is a key step if I wanted to potentially improve my turning skills. It seems that I am not the only one being asked and giving permission. When an old wisdom father was presenting a new idea, his audience responded with a permission-laced series of questions. “This is a new one on us. We’ve never heard anything quite like it. Where did you come up with this anyway? Explain it so we can understand.” (Acts 17.20)
Giving permission, I listened. Will I do it again?