I recently received a letter from a reader of my new book. Yes, an actual letter written on paper, by hand, to me. It came from out of the blue and from a place in California. I have never met this writer.
He wrote me that in reading my Handmade book round about page 38 or so he threw the book down on his kitchen table, alarming his wife. Then he reread the passage out loud and stopped reading the book altogether. This was the spot where I was talking about my accident on the jointer years ago.
The same kind of catastrophe had occurred to him. Only his was but a few years ago. The first words out of his mouth were the first words out of mine when the kick-back occurred.
“That was stupid.”
It was anger mixed with that feeling of shame that rushed over me when I realized what I had done to myself. How I had betrayed myself and put myself in harm’s way and then gotten bit. The hardest thing, after my finger mostly recovered its use, was figuring out how to A) get back on that pony and use my jointer again and B) forgive myself for my sin.
It’s not an easy lesson to learn. It is worth hearing about. The most important thing we need do at the bench it seems to me is forgiving ourselves our stupid and constant, it seems, little mistakes, our “I know better than this” gaffes, and our “My god that was stupid” events where blood flows and the work stops for a day or longer.
It will happen to you. Prepare yourself. Put safety habits in place for your days when you’re not on top of your game. Habits that protect you on your stupid days. It’s a dangerous and magical place is a shop. Beware and have fun at the same time.