I seem to get more sentimental with every year that passes. And early in October of this highly unusual year (to say the least), my sentiment was, 'What do I do with the last fifty-five days I have before I turn fifty-five?'
All the possibilities excited me, but none of them as much as the idea of pushing myself to make five new Ikigai pieces in 55 days. If you are wondering how that's different from what I've been doing these last eight months, I'll tell you--it was the challenge of working with a deadline on a year when there have been so few. You know, like 2019, and every other year before that since I started my career. So here is the first piece from the new collection I call Silver and Gold.
When I first saw this trunk, I was intimidated by its size. It was so big and heavy that it took three men to carry it. To be honest, I postponed getting started on it many times, but since it was a gift from a kind and generous lady who said she knew that we share a portion of proceeds from sales of my pieces with displaced workers in the events industry, I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone of working with smaller, more manageable materials, and get to work.
When I took out my tools and stood face to face with it, my first thought was, 'How am I going to do this without a chainsaw?'
I laugh about it now that it's done because looking back, I'm glad that I don't own a chainsaw (at least for now), because that would have made it too easy. Call me crazy, but I like putting in all the hours, all the sweat, and even the occasional injury into the pieces I make. I feel they deserve it, and that it gives them a part of me.
When my wife saw me starting to cut this giant with nothing more than an old hand saw, she was on her way out and said to me: 'Oh my God! You're going to kill yourself! Call the association, get some workers. They have a chainsaw, they can cut it for you!'
I kept quiet because she was upset and it seemed unwise for me to tell her at that moment that I don't like anyone else doing my work for me, so I waited until she drove off before starting to cut again. I thought I'd be done by the time she returned. I was wrong.
When she got back an hour later I was nowhere near being finished, and when she saw me drenched in sweat and panting, she got worked up again and gave me another animated scolding.
The only way to calm her down was to get her in on it, so in a Zen voice I said, 'What do you see in this wood?' She gave the barely cut behemoth a quick look, but because she was still mad, turned back to me and me said, 'I don't know?! What do you see?'
I took that as my cue to make an instant presentation, so I stood up from my stool and said: 'After I cut off this big branch, and make some more cuts here, then here, and here (I gestured with my hands), and do some shaping in these parts, won't it look like a big man's back?'
She took another look, this time longer (which made me nervous). Then her eyes lit up, and she said, 'Yes! It looks like Atlas from behind--the guy who carries the world.'
Whoa! Not only did she see the backside of a torso like I did, but she took it a step further by saying it was Atlas! So while she was in a better mood I said: 'Let's put a glass top on it and make it a table. The round glass is the 'world' Atlas is carrying--an Atlas table!'
It worked! She calmed down and went inside (which was her way of saying you may proceed to kill yourself). I gave a sigh of relief and started to cut again. Another hour passed. Then another, and another. It took me five hours to make the cuts and the whole time I was praying they would turn out straight and level.
They did! The next two weeks would be spent treating the wood to preserve it: shaping and sanding it, applying metal leaf, oiling it to enhance the grain, and finally- a 'French polish' with beeswax.
I guess I am crazy for not asking the village workers to come over with a chainsaw to help me because this kind of work hurts, and there's only so much Salonpas to cover my arms and back with. But I just can't explain the peace, the fulfillment, and the joy I experience making my Ikigai pieces myself.
In the same way Atlas is said to carry the world on his shoulders, making things has carried me through these turbulent times. My Ikigai has been my Atlas this year. I must say, it's good to have a giant to hold you up and keep the sky from falling. And that's a reassuring way to turn fifty-five.
Wood (black plum/duhat), tempered glass, metal foil.
Base: 15in x 17in x 22.5in
Tempered Glass Tabletop: 30in x 3/8in thickness
Total height: 23.5in
Free shipping within Metro Manila. Provincial and overseas shipping inquiries will be directed to our shipping broker for the best rates once purchase is confirmed.