Friday, October 10, 2008

"The mind has to be empty to see clearly."

I felt bad about myself for a while today. I felt as if I had made a mistake somewhere, and I couldn't see exactly where. I was trying to trace the route like a road map, except I couldn't even find the road I was on, nevermind the one I had deviated from.
I couldn't understand it and I felt badly. I felt like I had cheated myself of something but couldn't recall what it was.

I had the diamond saw this morning and was going through 1/8 inch corrugated steel. The sparks were incredible but I couldn't see and was constantly cutting wide. I rolled a cigarette and waited while the sun climbed over the mountains in the East.
Mt. Baker is imposing, even from that distance.
I was happy when the sun rose and I could see where I was cutting.
When the Fraser Valley had filled with mist and the deep chill began to lift I could see the chalk lines and paint markers for where the glue lam beams were.
I cut well and felt good. I forgot about feeling lost and the sun warmed my back there on the roof of the Hollyburn Country Club.

I worked with Lee after that and we built box-frames for concrete pads that would house air units, etc., on the roof.
Lee showed me how to build a chased-frame today, where the nailed end of each 2x4 overlapped the following 2x4; 'chasing' it.
Lee has been sober from meth and heroin and booze for two years and lives in a recovery house with 13 other men. Lee is a carpenter and the handle of his hammer is wrapped in white electrical tape. He laughs a lot.
Lee called frame-chasing "chasing the dragon". "Get to work, fuck. Chase the dragon". He would yell that with the flash of white from his hammer coming down on the 3 inch common nails he used and swore by.
"Chasing the dragon is fine, fuck, but if a big gust of wind comes along you are fucked" he said, "You wanna get the job done you use a fucking 100cc rig. You don't miss when you go for vein, fuck".
I liked that Lee told me about his fall, his bottoming-out as a man. There was no apology in his stories or his voice. He knew what had happened and he spoke freely as the judgements of others meant nothing to him. He already knew.
Lee reminded me that I felt strongest when I was picking myself up.

I liked working with Lee and he was a good teacher for me today. His words would switch between work and addiction, heroin and 2x4's, life and carpentry.
There was warmth in his voice when he told me about building frames or smoking meth; there were warnings and suggestions for both.

I forgot about feeling bad today when Lee showed me that I hadn't missed anything, I hadn't lost anything. I was where I wanted to be and I was there through pure will on my part.

“What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliest loneliness, and say, 'This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned and you with it, dust of the dust!' Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, 'Never have I heard anything more divine'?”

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