The Importance of Learning New Skills

Carving at the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN) campus.

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to learn how to whittle. A part of my brain has never been able to let it go, despite decades of procrastination. I’ve had an image of me working with a knife and a piece of wood on loop, like an ear worm. My creative mojo, which in my friends has manifested in pursuits like playing in a band or fixing cars or making jewelry, seems to want to come out through simple woodworking.

I don’t expect to ever become a master craftsman. Yet it’s been incredibly satisfying, deep in the bones of my soul, to finally begin making time for a long-deferred interest. It’s important for me to adopt a beginner’s mind again, as it keeps my creativity supple. And it reminds me that nothing is ever forgotten, that the best parts of ourselves are timeless and waiting. They’re dry tinder ready to take a spark.

The broader lesson I’m already learning is that answers are closer to hand than we often realize. Mindfully foraging through captured ideas often results in a bounty of ingredients for new creations. Sometimes that means scanning through old notebooks and journals for insights that spark a new article or story. Sometimes that means finally taking up an interesting craft, and living out a long-treasured dream.

My first completed project, a letter opener with Dwarven runes.