Thursday, November 12, 2009

being there

It's 10:17 p.m. and I just got home from the shop. I got there about 9:15 a.m. - a long day by my standards but there was a time when my days at the shop were often this long or longer. When I still was working out of my garage and didn't have the array of machinery that I now am lucky to posess I would work long into the night, brazing frames together. I was so slow that it took me a week what I can now do in a day. This necessitated marathon work days that could go from 8:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. . I remember one night with the torch in my hand looking at the thermometer in my unheated garage one winter night. The thermometer read 28 degrees......I thought that the next time my dad would tell me about bad working conditions that he had endured I would tell him about this night. There was a difference, dad was working a job he didn't like-I chose this job and here I was, reveling in how much it sucked. I could complain about how long the hours were and how low the pay was and the fact that the shop was filthy, unheated and not altogether pleasant.....trouble is I was a victim of myself. While I remain dedicated to what I'm doing still , I can spend the hours, answer the emails and phone calls , think that I'm doing a great job...then I remember-I have a repair hanging above my bench that has been there 11 months. What about that handlebar stem I promised earlier this year that never got built ? How about the bike shows I had to miss because I didn't want to interupt my work routine ? Or today....a brilliant blue sky that I didn't hardly bother to look at because I had so much work laid out for the day ? Or the many bike rides I missed because I was building.................Bikes ?!? This line of work demands that one be present and accounted for. A lot of work does but when you are a one-person operation the pressure to be there is substantial. I have no children. I'm not going to ever have children....nobody to continue the insanity I started, my bike framebuilding buisness. The bikes are my children.....hundereds of them. Some day ,maybe thousands -if I keep at it another ten or fifteen years. I had somebody ask me " How do you keep doing the same thing every day ? Don't you ever want to try something else ? " The truth is that it's not the same thing every changes, challenges, infuriates , trancends , evolves , falls apart , redeems , repels , flounders, defeats , reveals , mystifies , becons. If this weren't the case , a lot less people would want to try it. Once tried , the test will go on and on and one's presence and focus will be the difference between being on the outside or being immersed in the craft . It isn't about arriving somewhere or attaining something-it's about maintaining something. Its work-it goes on only as long as you are willing to be there.


  1. Seems like you would be in the Thousands by now. I think building bikes is great for brains that swirl around and dont get bored.

  2. Keep it coming Brother Paul!