My neighbor is carving a totem pole.
He met a lady on a local forest trail who was heartbroken over a fallen cedar tree on her property. My neighbor, already an accomplished artist in several fields, said he’d always wanted to “have a go at” carving a totem pole. The lady arranged for the tree to be hauled to my neighbor’s garage. He arranged to donate the money she offered him to a non-profit she favors. And the tree she grieved over will return to her property—with new life breathed into it.
Meanwhile, I get to watch a totem pole come alive this summer.
Some days, when my dog and I walk past, my neighbor invites us in to see the progress. Last week, the wolf’s head at the top of the pole began taking shape. This week, an owl’s eyes are blinking open.
As my dog noses around the fresh shavings on the floor, my neighbor glances at the 6-inch plaster model he made for mapping his way around the trunk of the 12-foot cedar. “I hope I finish in time,” he says. “Come winter, the wood will be too dry to work with.”
And I think of how incredibly big this project is. How incredibly kind the effort is. How incredibly creative each of us can be with our talents, dreams, and friendships.
So here is a question for you, my friend.
Is there something in this world you’ve always wanted to try? Is there an art project you’ve imagined yourself doing, but held back from? Is there a new relationship you’re ready to—perhaps courageously—make room for?
I hope you’ll embrace that dream. I hope you’ll bring a trusted friend along for the ride. And I dearly hope you’ll let me know what you’ve decided to “have a go at” so I can celebrate with you, too.
Last time I walked past my neighbor’s garage, the door was closed, but a steady thunk, thunk, thunk reached my ears—the sound of a soft mallet hitting a hand-held tool that is carving off one small curl at a time, bit by bit by bit, until a fallen tree becomes a symbol, becomes a gift, becomes an offering.
(This post is adapted from a note I wrote my subscribers in the summer of 2022. If you’d like to be the first to read more notes like these, subscribe here.)
[Photo courtesy of Unsplash.]