Life’s Handicaps

Scan

Cover of “Woodworker Annual,” The Woodworker Volume 63, Being the Twelve Monthly Copies, January-December, 1959

“We are all apt to cling to youth as if it were the whole of life, the remainder an uncomfortable margin that does not really count. The obvious attractiveness of youth, its bounding health and vigour, its enthusiasms and ambitions, conspire to hide from our eyes the pleasures and discoveries that can come with maturity.

‘Grow old along with me
The best is yet to be
The last of life, for which the first was made’

“wrote Browning in ‘Rabbi Ben Ezra,’ that beautiful poem in which he unfolds the whole panorama of life and experience. It is an inspiring panorama if we accept it in its wholeness, not youth only, that time of raw beginnings, but those later years in which we garner the fruits. Little by little the really experiencing man learns to know more about himself and his potentialities. So often the beginning of wisdom comes when we discover for ourselves some simple truth that we have taken for granted since childhood, and the discovery within ourselves of unguessed powers when we learn to harness and discipline the character. The young man who could never bring a job of woodwork to a successful conclusion because he was far too impatient may learn patience in the school of life, so that when later he turns back to woodwork there will no longer be that human failing between himself and the job, and the young man who could never finish without scamping become in his maturity an excellent craftsman.

“To see life opening out before us as something rich in possibilities, of developing interests, is to feel a quickening of the spirit, a sense of purpose that will carry us a long way. What we have to forget are the shallow judgments, our own and other people’s, which may have coloured and restricted our youth. If we cling on to them still, then our whole lives may remain enclosed in a narrow groove. We have to be adventurers and explorers, having the initiative and courage to find out our own capabilities, not only in the things that have come easily to use, but in the more difficult things as well. Limits we must have, but we shall now, if we are wise, yield to these too tightly. ‘You never know till you try’ is one of the old adages that no one can safely ignore. Sometimes it takes us to the fullness of maturity and beyond to find out how true it is, and we may be sure that a contented old age will go to the triers. They will see, looking back, that life has been but an apprenticeship and will glimpse a greater purpose behind, and what appeared to them once as the end of it all be but a greater beginning.”

— Charles Hayward, The Woodworker magazine, 1949

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7 Responses to Life’s Handicaps

  1. bearkatwood says:

    Youth is wasted on the young.

  2. Bill says:

    Wonderful. As a 59 year old man, who loved the youthful times, and feeling of invincibility, this is a beautiful piece of prose that I shall print, and post on the wall, with hopes that my twin 17 year olds give it a glance…..

  3. jonfiant says:

    Man, that guy knew how to write! Great stuff, and so true.

  4. Jason Weigle says:

    Reblogged this on Searching for Community and commented:
    Of all the books I own (which is quite a few), few have provided food for thought than Lost Art Press’s four volume set “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years”. Amidst the articles on woodworking trends and techniques are hidden Charles’ outlook on life and work. Despite the early to mid-1900s wording, the concepts are still as relevant today as they were 50+ years ago.

    This Lost Art Press blog post, and the following quote in particular, seem particularly relevant to the search for community. Enjoy!

    “To see life opening out before us as something rich in possibilities, of developing interests, is to feel a quickening of the spirit, a sense of purpose that will carry us a long way. What we have to forget are the shallow judgments, our own and other people’s, which may have coloured and restricted our youth. If we cling on to them still, then our whole lives may remain enclosed in a narrow groove. We have to be adventurers and explorers, having the initiative and courage to find out our own capabilities, not only in the things that have come easily to use, but in the more difficult things as well.”

  5. Matt says:

    Are there still plans to publish a book of Hayward’s wide-ranging wisdom?

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