Obsessions and pragmatism...aka, how not to lose your girlfriend, job, etc.

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Blog entry by gljacobs posted 04-06-2011 09:53 PM 1695 reads 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I once read an article about the scary skills of the famed Larry Bird.
Now not being a basketball fan, or of any other sport for that matter(-10 on my man card), I wasn’t really into the article, but I continued reading because my only other choices were Better Homes and Gardens and Glamour. As I read on, the more involved and invested I became because it relates to a personal philosophy of mine.Larry was a professional and he was not only a professional, he was a pro that other pros looked up to.
Why? As I read on they told me. He would come early to EVERY practice and shoot free throws and three pointers, and do the same after everybody left.
He had a passion that he exercised constantly that gave him a clean and pure satisfaction rivaled by few other human activities…and even those can’t be sustained as long, well maybe. : )

This release of raw emotion and gratification was a driving force. Creating all the intrinsic qualities that go into good work; detail, efficiency, compulsive practice, though practice comes consistency, through consistency comes foresight, and so on.
My verbose point is that being obsessive can be good and can get you to heights that others only have cute lil’ dreams about.

The issue is….when is enough enough?

At what point do you call it a day practicing and go back to your life and stop talking incessantly about woodworking so you can have friends, and a family and not drive them obliviously insane with the intricacies of how to put a camber on a plane iron or the latest thing that you discovered about a design flaw that you’ll improve on next time you go drool in your man cave.
And even further is your obsession productive and fruitful like Thomas Moser spending 10 or 12 hours at the lathe and not getting tired of it and building your empire to serve the greater good of humanity by bringing mass production and hand work into a cohesive bond to give Americans a well rounded choice against completely machine produce plastic mold injected crapo?
I have found a happy medium that suits me and my life for the moment…but I’m sure it will change as my life and my objectives change. I’m also interested in you guys out there.
You Lumberjockers riding the wave of obsession and trying not to go over the falls. How you manage your obsessions and your life together, what discussions you can and can’t have with you significant others, or family, because they’ve heard seventeen versions of how to make a wedged mortise and tenon.

Thanks ahead of time for offering up a glimpse into your own glorious personal madness.
Yours in wood

9 comments so far

View Verna's profile


202 posts in 3743 days

#1 posted 04-06-2011 10:18 PM

Larry Bird—one of my favorite subjects. He definitely wasn’t the most athletically gifted basketball player, but, as you said, Garett, he was obsessed with being the best. In my mind, he was. Yes, a lot will argue, but remember, IN MY MIND, he is great. Of course, it helps that he is a Hoosier and he played basketball, which I love.

But anyway, obsession with woodworking. My family has gotten used to me over the years. My sisters will call me and tell me when there’s a sale on a tool they’ve heard me talk about. My brother and I recently drove 22 hours round trip to get a great deal on a thickness planer. I drive 160 miles round trip to go to my favorite sawmill. Before I retired, I always took a vacation day for the Friday of The Woodworking Show in Indy. Count on it—don’t ask me to do anything else that day—I went during snow storms, ice storms, rain, a few weeks after knee surgery.

If they love you, they’ll put up with you….especially if you make something for them every once in a while. Now it helps if your skills have gotten better with time and practice and they know what you give them isn’t just a piece of wood, but an object that is useful.

The obsession—well, I sort of embarrassed my older sister a couple of weeks ago when I was taking photos of antique reproduction furniture with my iPhone in a funeral home at the showing for our friend’s mother…..Gorgeous furniture. Hey, we were in line for over an hour and I’ve never seen a table like that before. It ended up that a few people in line came up and were looking at the table with me. At least I didn’t get on my hands and knees and crawl under the table to see the stampings on it!!!! Yes, obsessed with great woodworking.

So, I say, let them get used to you. Woodworking, how you do it, what’s the best way, where to buy what you want—it’s amazing how many share the obsession with you. You’re in great company.

-- Verna -- Indianapolis, IN

View gljacobs's profile


76 posts in 3656 days

#2 posted 04-07-2011 02:09 AM

It’s good to know Verna thanks for your input.
You should up load that picture so I can check it out…I’m sure the appreciation won’t be lost here. ; )
...and yes, making them something once and a while does help them become a lil’ complacent to my CONSTANT woodworking rhetoric.
Thanks again

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1130 posts in 3943 days

#3 posted 04-07-2011 04:08 AM

Hello, my name is Scott and I have a woodworking obsession….

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Bhaupt's profile


28 posts in 3650 days

#4 posted 04-07-2011 06:04 AM

The Obsession – oh yes, we have seen our share of it. I know people obsessed with politics, sports, food, exercise, drinking, on and on, even obsessed with doing nothing. Of course a balanced life is what we are taught to achieve. And sure balance is good. Middle of the road, spread out your priorities, keep an eve keel. Us men only have 25,000 days on average to manage. And believe me…. time goes fast.

Sometimes we go in fads, we become interested in something and it stays with us for a time period. and somethings stick, it becomes your hobby, or could even lead to an occupation. My first obsession was drawing and using a drafting table, hense it became my profession for 35 years. If your interest grow out of hand you must realize the impact it has on your famly and friends.

If you love your girl/wife you know you need to give your time/attension to her. And when you bring kids into it. well the plot thickens. My first relationship failed because of this. I was obsessed with getting a house & shop as fast as I could. So I worked two jobs for four years to get that place. And I did not give here enough time in those four years. I was obsessed and it cost me. After going back to one job my time was spent making a wood shop and spending much to much time in it. After 18 years she left.

My obsession was out of control, The first year of not having anybody try to keep me under control. Led to me disassembling the reckroom, tearing out the new carpet and furniture, and moving some of my wood working tools into the house. I had a wood storage rack in the hallway, and a band saw in the dining room.

Having an addictive personallity as a I do will lead to all kinds of trouble. when I started lifting at the time I wound go five or six days a week. Shortly after I was alone I started going out every night for two years, party every night until the money ran out. Twenty years later… now I go for walks. When I first started out I could only walk one mile, than two, after a few month I would walk for 7 hours or 18 miles.

I could not just walk two or three miles like most people, and be consistant over the months. Like most things in my life, it soon became unsustainable. I had to put my tools in storage for 10 years or so but I always had a goal of working in the shop after my retirement. so now its been three years that I have retired and now go into the shop every day as if its a job…...

When you have seen what some people go thru in life it makes you appreciate what you have. Enjoy your passions in life but don’t let them get out of control. I learned to watch and listen to people I have come across. Most of my friends are 20 years or older than me, learn from them…. I found that the older people know a lot more than you think. When I worked in engineering I would tend to spend more time with the smartest and in most cases the oldest on staff, and was always learning from them.

-- Brian, Wind Gap, Pa.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3811 days

#5 posted 04-07-2011 06:42 AM

What obsession?
Yes, it is near midnight. Yes I am just now checking up on Lumberjocks tonight.
No, I haven’t bathed or eat supper yet.
I just came in from the shop.
What were we talking about now?
What obsession?


View gljacobs's profile


76 posts in 3656 days

#6 posted 04-07-2011 04:43 PM

To Brian:
Thanks man for your candidness, it’s truly humbling.
I understand what it can be like to let your addictive personality go.
It can be a good thing , but it’s also a double edged sword.

To William:
Hahahahaha, that’s hilarious.
Bathe, eat, brush the dust off, and get a good nights sleep.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3811 days

#7 posted 04-07-2011 05:29 PM

I was tired last night, but I had to come back to this topic for a more detailed answer.
What is considered an obsession may be considered mental therapy for for another. It’s true, you have to make time for family and life. If you are truly obsessed with woodworking though, even after all those things are done, you’ll still find a way to work in shop time, even if it’s limited. You can make it work though. You have to find a balance and make priorities. I am obsessed, if you want to call it that, with my wood work. Before I allow it to interfere with my wife or eight kids though, the wood shop can burn to the ground. They are my number one priority over all else.
As for boring your friends with the details of your obsession, it depends on who you call your friends and you having social skills. I done mechanic work for years. I worked with the public. I found out that I had to talk to them about whatever they wanted to talk about. Let’s talk about football for example, that’s big at certain time of the year around here. I can’t tell you the number of hours in my life I want back that were spent talking with guys in my mechanic shop about football. I hate football. I couldn’t tell them that though. I had to keep current enough on the happening of it because that is what people wanted to discuss. I’m with you on the sports. There is no sport out there that I care to waste my time watching.
Then there’s the wife, or girlfriend. What you can or cannot discuss with her depends on the woman. Some women will politely listen anyway even when they could care less what you’re hobby is. Some expect you to respect them enough not to bore them with details of something they don’t care about.
All these items of concern that you bring forth come down to one simple answer, it depends. Personal situations carry the weight in life. What works for one man may destroy another man’s life. Limits on expressing you passion may seem normal to one man but drive another man insane. It all works out in the end to what your personal situation is, if you’re happy with it, and if you’re willing to change it.
All that deals with generalalities though. What about me?
I have always been obsessed with whatever I was doing. When I done mechanic work, I was obsessed with that. I consider myself one of the best mechanics this side of the Mississippi (when I was able to do it). I got that way through obsession. I had a passion for it. If you are passionate about what you are doing, you will be good at it. The problem with all that though is that passion and being good at something does not always translate into financial well being. Mechanic work brought me plenty of financial gain. Woodworking will put me in the poor house if I don’t keep it in check.
All that gets back around to personal situations though. I’m amazingly blessed with my wood working. I have a huge shop. I have time to do it. I have a wife that encourages me to do it. She does because if I’m not busy at something at all times I have depression issues.
Your topic of obsession then turn out to be one of those very grey areas. What is obsession? Is it passion? Is it insanity? Each person has to decide that for themselves. What’s your balance? Without balance, a man falls. That one simple statement says it all and deserves repeating. Without balance, a man falls.


View gljacobs's profile


76 posts in 3656 days

#8 posted 04-07-2011 09:21 PM

Your right William it is a grey area and VERY esoteric.
My main cause for writing the initial topic was first to sort of think out loud about my own line that I have drawn and how far I’m willing to go for my passion. I wish I could take it further though I think it would be a bitter sweet journey riding alone.
Second to hear others and where they draw their line.
How far their willing to go and the repercussions involved in their decisions.
Thanks guys for speaking your peace and generating some good thought on the area.

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3662 days

#9 posted 04-07-2011 09:27 PM

I probably have some severe yet undiagnosed mental condition. That doesn’t worry me all too much. Woodworking is cheaper than therapy. I have difficult with moderation, whether it be running, drinking, woodworking; I’ve taken them all to the extreme at some point. Eventually I seem to arrive at a balance. Incidentally, this is why I’ve never gambled once in my life. That’s a trial obsession I’d rather avoid.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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