from attitude to solitude

by | Mar 27, 2011

there are reasons i work alone, and in silence. and with the not so recent move to franklin county, they have become more apparent than ever before. my life has always been in transition even if the work i do appears to have a consistent theme and aesthetic. i have read where folks say what i do hasn’t changed much and, even when the work is commended, i question and disagree with their premise. i have never made the same bicycle twice, nor would i care to. but this is less about the bicycles i make and more about paying attention. the net has made it very easy to send out messages and opinions. like so many others, i have been caught in it too. i have always been self-absorbed and focused on my work, what drives me, and the results that i am looking for. watching and reading as life is played out online can be like candy for a diabetic. it’s all there to search for, and a lot of it is served up with no need to look at all. you only need to be online, and the rest can find you, end up in a thread you’re reading, or as a message sent via facebook, through forum software, via email, or similar. with all of these distractions, being alone becomes work.

whatever ease i tiptoed through life with up until that fateful day my first dell inspiron arrived is now a memory. filters are needed where none existed before. i think about actions and words (as well as alliances) now because everything is cached. for as much benefit as my business has received in the internet era, there has also been a toll to pay for becoming part of its cast of characters.

when i transitioned from chester to warwick, it was all part of a plan to simplify life and also to live it more fully. the move itself was more of an ordeal than i could imagine. forgetting about real estate agents, lawyers, lenders, and potential buyers for a moment, the very task of taking 35+ years worth of yourself from one place and dropping it off in another place is one which still is being carried out to this day. if there’s a way to load stuff on a truck on friday, move it over the weekend, and resume life on monday, i certainly missed the memo. we arrived in autumn of 2009. i waited until mid winter of 2010 for the zoning permits, the architect’s plans, and the contractors to all come and go so i could finally have studio space all to myself. that alone is five months i’ll never have back.

i often joke that i left attitude for solitude. and, for a brief moment last spring i was actually working again, in silence, on a regular basis. by summer though, i learned about life, lemons, and lemonade, and have had to develop new filters for things that weren’t planned for. since then, and for another moment – however long a moment stretches – i live within these parameters. as winter comes to an end and the ice on the pond here melts, it’s a good time reflect on the pace of things and know – or should i say, realize – that it all happens for a reason. after almost two years on a dead end, dirt road with almost no personal interaction unless we go down the mountain, i see this transition as being nearly complete. whatever comes next, believe me, i’ll be better prepared.

there’s a reason i work alone. it suits me. i prefer to stay within my own boundaries rather than widen them and compromise by working with and for others. whenever i let anyone or anything into my cocoon-like existence, i feel like i am giving up a part of myself for them or whatever problems we are collectively trying to solve. it may work for others, but it’s not how i am wired. the concept may have merit, but in practice it loses all appeal. for all the half-baked attempts as well as genuinely honest efforts made to work in collaboration, behind the scenes, in private forums, on closed cc field email strings, and in dark corners of the internet, i knew all along that working alone is its best reward. to do good work, and to do it without seeking the affirmation of anyone else, is a gift you give to yourself. i lit a few matches along the way, and i burned some too.

march has been a long month for me. i have spent less than four days at home since NAHBS. this is the weekend i go through all the mail, open all the cartons left on the porch, pay some bills, prepare to ship some long overdue parcels to clients in waiting, and also fantasize about getting to that place where i can say – finally – i have a routine again. there’s no better feeling than that of being impenetrable; to be able to take what you want from the world and give a big eff to whatever else would only be excess baggage anyway. the latter is my way of describing noise, and also why i work better in silence. trading attitude for solitude…