Monday, May 9, 2016

The Way it Wants to Split

I started splitting firewood in high school.  At the time I preferred the biggest splitting sledge money could buy.  I still own that sledge actually.  I use it to drive the wedge when really large logs need a little extra help to make the first break.  Well, that and to keep the garage door shut now during those expanses of time when the latch is broke.

There is wisdom, life skills if you like, to be found in the wood pile.  Life gives us a lot of problems.  Some we choose for ourselves in the forms of hobbies.  Some come as unexpected consequences of choices we make.  Some fall to us as fate.  However they come, there is no keeping them out.

The wood pile taught me that the first question I should ask, when faced with a problem is the same that I ask when confronted by a thick disc of wet oak, "How does it want to split?"  How does the problem want to be solved?  What does the lay of the grain tell you about the simplest manner to turn the disc into wedges?

When I was seventeen I was happy to confront every problem with determination, muscle, and the biggest sledge money could buy.  Now I prefer small light splitting ax and little insight informed by experience.  Both will get the job done, but the latter requires a smaller dose of ibuprofen when the day is done.

How she wants to split.

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