Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Texture and Effort

     Ok, I will confess at the beginning that I am easily amused. Like a raccoon with shiny objects, I am easily distracted with the simplest of things and will ‘play’ for hours, turning the moments, the objects or words around in my head.
     Today, during a battle with that yellow plastic binding around a box of copy paper, I somehow managed to split a finger nail. After taking my wrath out on the yellow binding, I went in search of someone with a nail file or something to repair the split and a band-aid. The plant nurse was quite amused. It was not a typical ‘work related’ injury and an Emory board was not part of her normal first aid kit. I bribed her with a candy bar to not report the incident.
     As I began to file the nail down, for some reason, the gritty sound caught my attention (remember my confession). The Emory board reminded me of sandpaper. The Emory board had both a hard gritty surface and a softer but still gritty surface. The harder surface would be like the sandpaper you use to get the top layers of wood or metal sanded down quickly with no worry of damaging the wood – or in this case, the fingernail. The softer side would be for the fine detail work, shaping and creating a soft or satin like texture without damaging or scratching the object. You would not use sandpaper with a very fine grain to start stripping away layers of paint. You would also not use coarse sandpaper to smooth a delicate piece of wood or metal. The purpose of each is to remove the rough edges, strip away the layers hiding the texture, grain and natural state of the hidden beauty. Texture and effort dictate the tool.
     The sound of the file, against my nail, reminded me of walking in the woods. When I first started to file the roughness, I could hear the fall’s crackling leaves and twigs. As the nail became smoother it was spring and the ground was still soft from the winter’s melted snow. With each stroke of the file, my mind traveled down a different path, a different season. In the woods your walk mirrors the seasons.
     The day had been day of rough edges and layers of caked on paint. A day that felt like fall. Instead of the season’s colors I saw only the trees stripped of their leaves, sticks and limbs cluttering my path and I was dreading the winter. Perhaps my friend, the yellow plastic binding, was the gentle side of the Emory board, echoing the craftsman’s words to ‘Know your wood. Go with the grain.” Perhaps it was reminding me to pause, consider texture and effort and the beauty of the path, whatever the season. With one final stroke, I put the treasured Emory board in my desk, along with the band-aid.