On Reordering Priorities

American Felling Axe by Wranglerstar

Before the lure of internet took hold of my priorities, I was a potter – a good potter but a poor potter. While I had studied architecture in school, I ended up leaving with an art degree in ceramics. Not all ceramics majors think of themselves as potters, many, no most, think of themselves as artists or sculptors. But some of us are drawn to the ancient craft, the spinning wheel, the fire, the utility the things we make provide.

But these days it’s tough to earn a living doing something that takes so much time to do. So like so many, when the internet took-off I jumped on and found another way to apply my creative skills. I never lost that love for doing things the hard/right way – just got my priorities rearranged; societal pressures seem to have a knack of doing that.

I suspect you might know what I mean. So many of us get caught up on the treadmill that drives the current paradigm – our current way of life. It seems like if we don’t focus all our attention on acquisition – making money, making progress – we’ll fall behind and somehow fail.

In the video below we see a man finishing an axe. His name is Cody and he lives on a homestead in the woods of southern Washington. He once ran on the treadmill too, but today he lives simply and stays very busy with many projects like crafting this axe. Incidentally one of his other projects is a tiny timber frame cabin, which is probably patiently waiting for warmer weather.

But why make an axe!? You could go to the store right now and buy a Made in China axe for 30 bucks. Bringing an old axe head back to life and crafting a handle from a carefully sought & selected piece of hardwood would take so many hours, it would hardly be worth your time. All that time could be far better spent earning many times the cost of the axe too.

I’m probably preaching to the choir, but Cody’s video gave me an opportunity to reflect. It reminded me that maybe the biggest difference between our modern society and simpler times is in the values we hold highest.

Focusing on acquisition has brought us advances & riches but they’ve also come at quite a cost. I suspect many of us are drawn by the lure of tiny houses because they embody a value shift that resonates with us. A value shift where things like freedom, love, peace, and balance are held in higher regard than acquisition. Acquisition is still there, but it takes a back seat instead of center stage.

The revolutionary in me says that maybe this is the answer to many of our troubles and may explain why the powers-that-be are constantly working to control more. As masters of the current paradigm these people would naturally be obsessed with acquisition & control since these two things are required to be successful in the current paradigm.

The revolutionary in me also tells me to share ideas like this, in the hope that if enough of us see the danger that comes with holding acquisition above all other values, we might choose to hold other values higher ourselves – and demand it of the people we elect to govern our collective affairs.

A higher standard we need – not because it brings us more riches but because it brings us  closer to each other, and the things that help us thrive.

I know I tend to read a lot into things so thanks for your patience while I wax poetic. I hope you enjoy the video.

You can follow Cody on his Wranglerstar Youtube Channel and on Facebook.

For those looking for the back-story of this axe and why he’s going to give it away watch this video.

 

8 thoughts on “On Reordering Priorities

  1. Clark says:

    Micheal,
    Nice piece. It was the perfect compliment to the morning sun and my first cup of coffee.
    Cheers to all,
    Clark
    svrikki.net

  2. D. Everett Taylor says:

    Thank you for what you did for that lovely axe. I’m following the Tiny House meme hoping that some day I’ll be able to take the leap. Keep up the good work.

  3. Kristine B says:

    I happened onto Cody’s You Tube page some months back. I have enjoyed watched many of his videos, a few of them have caused me to question how he did something but that’s more because I learned the wood craft of boat building. Cody is a craftsman in the things he does and it give me pride knowing there are others that have that same pride in doing things right and by hand. That ax is something the new owner will prize for a very long time.

    I learned my woodworking skills from my dad, building fishing boats and helping him restore and rebuild old airplanes. He impressed on me the need to take pride in a job done right. It didn’t matter what the job was you did it the best you could do. Over the years of doing repair work, many times it’s a matter of a couple of hours more time to do things right over just enough. I know it’s just me but I shutter when I see people putting things together with a nail gun. This comes from my time boat building.

    There is something to be said for doing something with pride, I think Cody shows that in the things he does. He’s a couple of hundred miles from me, maybe one of these days our paths will cross, because I would like to pat him on the back and tell him “Well done.” I guess I can do that now that I’m almost sixty… Gee it’s seems like I got out of high school just a few years ago.

    Doing something right never goes out of season, and many times it is in demand.

    Kristine

  4. SteveR says:

    Michael – your thinking is not revolutionary – it’s more of an awakening. What you speak of has always been there and has been forever articulated in one way or another. Once you are aware of it, you see the same message repeated everywhere. People living in the west have been blind to it for many decades – but this was purely intentional. Unless you were convinced that you were always unhappy and needed more things in order to be happy, the consumer gravy train would come to a screeching halt. The greatest joy does not come from the store. Money does not buy happiness. Consumers are not rational. Economic decisions are not always to maximize profit. We’ve based a whole economic system on falsehoods.
    Now go out and do what you love!

  5. Lu Bu says:

    There is an unspoken beauty to watching a true craftsman at work – someone who takes pride in the work itself, not merely in the monetary gain one may acquire by selling the work. The man who lovingly crafted this axe is just such a person.

    Perhaps I’ve been jaded by suburban and urban living – and the modern-day zeitgeist of consumerism – but things like this tug at my manly heartstrings. It hearkens back to a pioneer time that I swear is embedded into my DNA somewhere… the American spirit. Those contented to live off the land, satisfied with less, and the knowledge that what they had was greater in quality than could ever be figured by an accountant.

    I thought that American craftsmanship and the pioneer spirit were dead… and seeing this man create this wonderful implement brought a tear to my eye. I want to live in a castle community in Idaho one day… and I want men like this there with me. I believe America could be truly great again – it is the honest hope that keeps me going.

    Thanks for this post. ^_^
    – Emperor Lu Bu

  6. Bill Murray says:

    CODY, I STUMBLED UPON WRANGLESTAR 2 DAYS AGO AND HAVE BEEN WATCHING EVER SINCE . I DON’T KNOW WHY EXACTLY BUT I JUST ENJOY YOUR SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE AND TOOLS . I THINK THEIR MUST BE SOME PRIMAL JOY IN LIVING THE LIFE YOU LIVE . I’M 68 YEARS OLD AND HAVE SPENT MY LIFE IN URBAN SPRAWL . I HAVE A 7 YR OLD YELLOW LAB , SOPHIE , THAT I TRULY LOVE AS YOU MUST LOVE YOUR LIFE AND FAMILY . GOD BLESS AND I’LL KEEP WATCHING ON YOU TUBE .

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