“Putting in a Window”

Today’s poem by John Brantingham is a reminder to be in the moment, whether you’re putting in a window, or cooking, or raising a family. Be here now, lose yourself in what you’re doing, and the rest will take care of itself.

Putting in a Window

Carpentry has a rhythm that should never
be violated. You need to move slowly,
methodically, never trying to finish early,
never hoping that you’d be done sooner.
It’s best if you work without thought of the
end. If hurried, you end up with crooked 
door joints and drafty rooms. Do not work
after you are annoyed just so the job
will be done more quickly. Stop when you 
begin to curse at the wood. Putting in
a window should be a joy. You should love
the new header and the sound of 
your electric screwdriver as it secures
the new beams. The only good carpenter
is the one who knows that he’s not good.
He’s afraid that he’ll ruin the whole house,
and works slowly. It’s the same as 
cooking or driving. The good cook
knows humility, and his soufflé never falls
because he is terrified that it will fall
the whole time he’s cooking. The good driver 
knows that he might plow into a mother
walking her three-year old, and so watches
for them carefully. The good carpenter 
knows that his beams might be weak, and a misstep
might ruin the place he loves. In the end,
you find your own pace, and you lose time.
When you started, the sun was high. Now
that you’re finished, it’s dark. Tomorrow, you 
might put in a door. The next day,
you’ll start on your new deck.

John Brantingham

Do you agree with what Brantingham says about humility?

In what activities do you lose track of time?

Sources:

“Putting in a Window” by John Brantingham, Putting in a Window, 2005. Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes.

Photo: Danish Window, Wikimedia Commons

7 thoughts on ““Putting in a Window”

  1. “The only good carpenter is the one who knows that he’s not good.” I can so relate to this statement. Taking one’s time feels like a luxury with so many external pressures hanging in the air, but reframing the mindset to do things with love and care is a healing process (at least to me these days). Finding one’s flow and losing the sense of time is the best feeling – I have had that happen at times while I was working on oil paintings, or designing a space, or building an architectural model, or writing, or traveling. I seek that state of mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Finding one’s flow and losing the sense of time is the best feeling” — it is, yes! It sounds like you have lots of activities where you get into that flow state. I thought of this poem as I was making a pie this weekend – keeping in mind that it (especially the crust) could fail if I wasn’t careful (which has happened so many times when I’m baking and only paying half attention).

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  2. garypelletier July 9, 2020 — 2:29 pm

    I’m sure this will not be a surprise: I can lose a track of time when I’m cleaning. One of the many great things about being retired is that I don’t have to rush — if I decide a window needs to be washed while I’m cleaning a bedroom, I can just go right ahead and do it! Same holds true for reading and walking. During C19 I’ve become a big fan of the long haul walk. Totally enjoy meandering down new side streets and never before noticed dead ends, or satisfying old curiosities about where certain streets end up. I now know my neighborhood better than ever before!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha. Yes, not too surprised about the cleaning! 🙂 I can relate to what you write about meandering around the neighborhood and noticing things that have always been there, but you just never saw before. It’s fun having these close-to-home mini adventures!

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  3. Dianne Henson July 8, 2020 — 6:06 pm

    Very nice. I totally lose all track of time when I go through photo albums. I could sit for hours thinking of all the old memories wishing I could turn back time. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. garypelletier July 9, 2020 — 2:17 pm

      Ah yes, that’s a good one. So easy to spend an afternoon or evening that way…..

      Like

    2. Definitely. Just this weekend we found a box of old photos of our family (you’re in several!) and before I knew it hours had passed!

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