The time I spend in the shop is not solely on the fabrication of handmade goods, but also on the forging of my own mind. You learn a lot while teaching yourself a trade and it doesn't matter how many articles you read and how many brains you pick, it isn't until you put yourself out there that you'll discover what it takes to create. It demands that you exercise your problem solving abilities, your memory of mathematics and geometry, your mechanical aptitude and most importantly your imagination and vision. My operation is confined to a 10' x 20' shop full of hand tools, but the reason why its possible is because I have made it so in my mind. You learn focus, resiliency, and free will in exchange for frustration and scars, but at the end of the day you discover that what you have created couldn't exist without you, or you without it. The self-study I experience leads me on several paths, and more recently, a great paradox.
In one of my professions, I must extinguish and prevent fire, in another I must coax and encourage the proper flame in order to create. It's really quite a thing. In one world it maims and destroys, in another it unifies and builds. One day I am fighting a truck fire and stopping it from running up a hillside, and the next I'm finding the perfect mixture of oxygen and acetylene so my torch will burn at its hottest. Meanwhile, the imagery and capacity of fire and the things I've seen echo in my mind.
I have always had a respect and fascination with fire. When I was just 7 years old, my kitchen caught fire and I put it out with a glass of water. I now have the knowledge to understand why just single glass of water could extinguish an entire wall of flames, but I did not know that then? I was just a boy and saw this being in my home wishing to bring it down. As a firefighter, I've now grown to know it and become accustomed to its presence, but deep down inside I'm still that boy that is in awe of its potential. Now I know that last part sounds crazy, but its energy and very existence will devour anything so that it can survive.
I've gotten pretty good at it, fighting fire. I'm now an Engine Company Lieutenant, and when you boil my position down to its most basic of descriptions, it is to keep my guys safe, put out fires and make sure they stay out. I'd be lying if I said I was afraid of fire. Despite seeing first hand what it can do, the horrible things it can do, I have never feared it. I've grown to understand it and know what it wants. How it's going to move and where it can hide. My thoughts the other day brought me to the realization that throughout life and my evolving ambitions, my interest in fire has never changed. What has changed is that I can train it to do what I'd like it to do. There is still so much to learn and experience, but I can't help but draw the conclusion that my fascination is a metaphor that parallels the Dreamworks animated film "How to Train Your Dragon", as I have trained mine.
Someday I hope to understand exactly what pattern life adheres to and why life has culminated the way it has, but I am extremely fortunate not only to have passions, but be given such radical extremes of seeing them through.