Check out the SD CURLEE & MORE page to see the new SD CURLEE model – this week is the 40th Anniversary of the start of SD Curlee production, and the Phoenix takes the best of the old and builds it into a sexy, balanced, huge sounding medium scale bass. We brought SD Curlee back to life in 2011 and it all built to this.
Now, some words from the workshop...
In my experience, whatever the outcome in a given endeavor you’ll face both challenge and victory. Generally it’s one step on a path full of the same; welcome to life. From my perspective as a luthier, whether it’s a company or one guitar, a lasting relationship or a cabin in the woods, a degree or swapping an engine in an old car, there are four ways it goes. Only one has potential to be successful, and by that I mean the task or project is accomplished. If this helps ONE PERSON out there live a better life or refocus and alter their path towards the life they want, I’m happy. Just some food for thought since we have the time together… we’ll get back to wood & wire next week.
You will abandon the process.
This person is either so scared of failure they won’t risk success (sad), decides that this path, whatever it may be, is truly not for them (wise), or re-prioritizes another pursuit above it – which can only be judged in context and in hindsight after what they left for either works or crumbles. Perhaps impatience sets in, or fears of unknowns you know are bound to come up. In my line of work one may booger up a build or deal with tool issues. It’s really OK – we fix what’s wrong and move along. It’s not death. In my world you commit to the cut, and that piece of wood is now becoming that guitar. It’s also a commitment to deal with whatever comes up as it happens, that you’re “in” until it’s out.
Maybe one veers due to a lack of self confidence sabotaging that which, when seen through, might have fixed that issue. Regardless, the garden is abandoned and left to die. The only guarantee here is that this particular dream will die by choice. In the battle of life we decide if this or that hill is worth dying on, because if it’s your best hope and a field you enjoy and you need to do something and here it is… you cinch up the ol’ applebag and start climbing the hill. Life can be full of other opportunities and blindsided shots, as well as simple pure distractions; truth is, it’s not going to build itself. One of my older mechanic friends summed it up – I watched him prepare to do a very challenging repair sure to scrape knuckles and be full of problems he’d have to figure out all week as he went. “Aren’t you intimidated by this?” I asked. “Scott, I’m a mechanic. This is what I do. So I can either get after it and make it happen, or I can pack my tools and go home.”
You will be held back by external forces.
This person has difficulties in other areas of their life they cannot contain and keep away from their garden. They are unable to leave them outside the gate and their work and ability to function with others is affected. Wearing all of this on the outside and putting personal issues and instability on display to the world keeps potential business away, and the realities of their difficulties result in changes and decisions made out of panic and desperation – rarely a great time for solid decision making. No amount of skill in the world can save this person’s dream from their own inability to compartmentalize their situation. Sometimes the situations are just too big to contain and aren’t even brought on themselves; sometimes this stuff only becomes an issue once things are rolling – there’s a crush of new people and situations to filter through when something becomes the least bit visibly successful, and other situations change around it as well.
Being stuck in a reactive state it’s difficult to keep moving in a straight line. But you have to do what you can to hold your course in the wind and protect the garden, to not allow a temporary chapter of life to pee all over your squash buds. And for God’s sake don’t HELP it fail by you pissing in there too! I always say, “Worst case scenario, whatever happens, I escape in the pickup truck because then I can show back up with a load of lumber and start rebuilding.”
You will be held back by internal issues. Some people are damaged – hey, I get it. That’s a ride in this carnival too. Everyone's got issues. But I’m referring to functional, potentially rational folks that allow the worst inside to poison their progress – not those who seriously can’t help themselves. There are people who have no faith, no trust, and cannot let go and get out of the way enough for anything to happen. For example, they fear being taken so much they refuse to set up the ways funds get from one place to another. They distrust others to where any advice given is distrusted also. And they can't figure out why it's not happening for them; there must be some angle, some trick he's got that I don't know. Stewed in their own juices long enough, this person will not be able to see past their walls and protections to get a glimpse of any bigger picture of how it all hooks up and happens, then base their decisions on THAT. They’re too busy writing the scripts for scenes that haven’t even started yet.
We all have fears and very few in the creative arts and crafts are bastions of pure sanity; but the cycle of self-destructive failure is a bitch! It feeds on itself and wet-blankets everything. There will always be others here and there who want to wail you in the gonads, don’t do it to yourself pulling up your own socks. At least there are always other people to blame, since it’s everybody – right? Wrong. There is really nobody else to blame for the way we, ultimately, screw ourselves sometimes. We’re the best at it because we know all of our own worst stuff inside and no one’s ever going to stir that stuff up better. We follow our own worst instincts into decisions that feed our habits, habits that cloud our thinking, thinking that alters our perspective, perspective that feeds our decisions. You can’t build a house on a shaky foundation. And you can’t help someone to fix that first if they don’t see it.
You will help and devote to the process.
I love the garden metaphor because that's what everything is. Sure, there’s a hell of a lot of work in a bountiful garden - if you don’t prep the dirt, you won’t plant the seed, and you can’t stay focused on protecting and feeding this all, it won’t happen. But if you DO plant good seed in good soil, most of the magic happens by itself. You just keep the weeds away, the critters out and the hail off, and make sure it’s watered. You devote to your PART of the process and along the way so much of it just grows into being. Along the way by doing and dealing with what came up, you’ve become a better gardener.
You become wiser in a healthy way to the insects, not monsters, that want to bite away your fruit and the major obstacles take on their proper size as anthills. You contain the external to the point of removing toxic people and behaviors from your life. You manage the internal because you’ve walked far enough in not to listen to all the bullshit inside or be ruled and guided by fears and angers that never served you. You compensate for your misalignments and bring your best and don’t veer or BE veered. There is still no guarantee of anything, but this definitely stacks the odds in your favor. Success favors the go-getter and once it’s all in motion work with the inertia. Ideally you become who you need to be by the time you get to the next stage by climbing there. You’ve learned to swim – it really doesn’t matter how deep the water is.
NOW, I KNOW this could be a load of nutty squirrel dookie, but it really does make sense to me. I’m just a guitar maker in the woods, but most of what I know about life I learned carving and fitting parts together, working pieces into a whole in harmony with itself. Think about that. And I’m not one to waste time at the podium; given a chance to say something, it’s probably going to be a bit more than “Hey, check out my wood!” The reality is each of us is each of these in some measure at one time or another. I’ve spent whole chapters in each, I just didn’t stop there and wrap it around me like my new flag. “What will I bring to this? Good question, ‘cause invariably something’s going to happen somewhere else in my life and I’ll be LONG gone before anything even has the CHANCE to work out for you OR me! Do I get the gig?” “Hello ma’am, I’m a collection of missteps caused by other people. Can I buy you a drink?” “Here I am, I fear everything! Nice to meet you!”
I think the climb takes us through the first three to prepare us for the fourth. It’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom, and I know – much like in building an instrument – the true education did not come from the schooling. Never confuse schooling with education. The true education comes from committing to a worthy goal and continuing through its process and over time climbing over or through whatever comes up. That’s what builds a guitar, that’s what builds a company, this is what takes Vienna. It’s what builds strong relationships. It’s what builds you; then you bring that to everything you do.
Your first choice is which you want to be with your next step.
Listening to: Sonny Rollins, pretty much all week. Hoping to uncover some old vinyl LPs for next week!