One Step is Easy

So there I was, a heavily weighted fixed glare at two pieces of two by four that for some forsaken reason did not make a right angle as their humbled carpenter (me) had intended them to. Deep breaths, reassuring words and most importantly the help of the educators here at CR were quick to put my mind at ease. “Did you check square before you nailed them?” “How about the plywood sheeting, did you double check your measurements?” “Did you measure from a square side of the board?” …and on and on the checklist goes, and on and on I was slowly realizing how great it is to be okay with learning from mistakes. 

Almost four weeks have passed since beginning a new life in the belly of communal living and a progressive natural building education. In this short amount of time I have had this one particular lesson playing on mental repeat: the simple but heavy fact of one step at a time. Too often I’ll broaden the perspective of a goal and obscure my relation to the bits and pieces that have to occur for its finality. For example…walking a trail for consecutive months or miles sounds like a mighty undertaking, but how about taking a single step? One step in front of the other is relatively easy but if that is your only present intent and care and compassion is put into the how of each easy step then suddenly before you know it the goal in time or distance becomes just another inevitably. And such is the way of building a box! Making a perfectly square post out of two by fours and plywood can be challenging, so I’ve found, but let’s slow this stock car down a hair…how about squaring a single point of contact of just two of the two by fours? Or before that, how about cutting them to length perfectly? Or even before that, how about picking up the piece of wood to be cut and simply looking for bowing or crowning? As my fearless leaders at Community Rebuilds have pointed out in their weekly knowledge bombs ( melodically titled building builders everything needs to be understood through a frame of reference because everything is in relation to something. Now, I could talk about that statement for a couple days but to give a head and tail to this beast: a positive and dedicated intention put into one single point or action is inevitably going to set you up for a new platform even more receptive to your positive and dedicated intention which when on repeat carries on and sallies forth to make a  wamma-bamma kind of moment because suddenly before you know it: you’ll have a square box (or insert any goal). The more challenging the objective, the more intention should be brought to simpler things…”What do you mean everything we cut was wrong and we should probably take it all apart and start over?” …Well now, in a moment like that, I’ll go way back: can I breath? Yes…okay, let’s breathe and breathe well… and then: Do I know where the pry bar lives? Aaahh, yes, that’s easy, absolutely! I can definitely accomplish going to grab that pry bar out of the trailer- and so on and so on. This approach is such a beautiful way to take in the world and I’m happy to be in a place that offers the sort of education that can permeate all actions of life if you let it. 

While looking to make some additions to the beautiful communal bunkhouse I currently call home I teamed up with another intern to try and master the art of building a shelf. The shelf was made entirely of reclaimed wood that jumped, yipped, scooted and scowled at us while trying to fit it to shape via different saws and extra long decking screws. The most challenging aspect of this particular project was matching the top of the shelf with the angle of the staircase the shelf would soon be relegated to. Before long I felt like I was swimming in a middle school math geometrical nightmare (pythagor-whuh theorem?). After every misnomer, curse word and heachache imaginably sufferable for what seemed to be such an easy carpentry task the thing began to take shape and sure enough when my partner in crime and I measured the widths of each shelf they were right on the money at 16 and a half inches. Throughout the whole challenge it was a refreshing memory to come back to what is known, accept things as they are and pick a single point of reference to place my initial intention. My mental stability (and inevitably the stability of those living within arms reach of me) depended upon these empowering mantras. 

I came to Moab for the first time via bicycle in October of 2017. For the entirety of the three month trek the bicycling was mixed with hitch-hiking due to some mutiny aboard ship (specifically, the left knee became more than a little wiley). In brief, the trip was plagued with challenges and really that was all that I saw: challenge after challenge. Eventually a sense of total acceptance of circumstances hit like a framing hammer and inevitably bliss ensued. This was fortunately right around the time I rolled into Moab. This philosophy of accepting what is hit a strong chord and I believe that lesson to be one of the most pivotal that I have experienced to date. How wild it is to me that three years on from that lesson I have circled back to the Southwest, maybe my most trustworthy teacher of all time, and have found myself delving deeper into another aspect of accepting what is through the physical act of building with hands and body (and recycled, sometimes warped, funky looking wood). Currently I try and tell myself: what is there is a point of reference, somewhere, just pick one and blend and seek understanding with it then do it all again in a mental dance that gets groovier movement by movement, moment to moment. 

By Bryan Wright, Community Rebuilds Intern Spring 2020.

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