Friday, March 5, 2010




1 : a worker who has learned a trade and works for another person
2 : an experienced reliable worker, athlete, or performer

i had a discussion with someone recently about the lost art of trade. he mentioned how his grandfather had built his own house, with help of course, but understood all of its internal workings: the construction, the electricity, the heating system, etc. he could troubleshoot for himself, not having to call some outside source if something went wrong. my friend felt like this was lost on later generations. he wanted to get back to this place in which people knew trades, and that knowledge was considered valuable.

i think about my mother. she's been a seamstress since she was twenty. self-taught. as far as i'm concerned, she can make anything. if something was too big, she took it in. if it had a hole, she fixed it, patched it, sewed it. if i needed a dress for that friday, she was on it. and it was made, tailored to my imagination.

i think about my friends liz and eric. organic farmers (although, often too humble to admit it). they grow their own food. and i've had it—it's good. it starts with seeds and turns into real vegetables. it's practically in their backyard, and they can pull it out of the ground, rinse it off and eat it.

these are JOURNEYMEN, those who have wielded trades and apply them to a practical use.

i often wonder if my writing is a trade. it's an art and a craft, but i'm not sure if it's a trade. the fourth definition of trade in the dictionary is: any occupation pursued as a business or livelihood; the fifth is: some line of skilled manual or mechanical work; craft. well, it is manual, of sorts, not quite mechanical, and certainly pursued for my livelihood.

writing, to me, is a tool as much as it is a craft. it is the tool i use for processing the world around me and understanding my place in that world. it needs to be wielded and refined in order for this application to succeed. in this way, perhaps i am on my way to being a JOURNEYMAN as well.

if that doesn't work, i can also hem pants and work a power drill.

1 comment:

  1. Confession: sometimes we don't rinse it off. The grit is so good for your teeth...