Monday, December 1, 2014

Iron, fire and masterpieces

My paternal grandfather was a woodworker and blacksmith and made farm implements for many people in the community. Most holidays, I went to the farm and would be amazed at how he took iron and shaped it into a plough, hoe or axe, or took a piece of wood and shaped it into a yoke or a mortar and pestle. I realize nowadays that we never took pictures of all this artwork that he worked on at the farm as this was decades ago before taking a picture did not mean taking out your phone and now all that remains are memories. On many days he got up very early in the morning and left for the farm forest with an axe only to return with a block of wood. He would have already seen the final product as he chose the tree to cut. He also knew the type of wood that would produce a masterpiece and he knew how to work on it to get his product. In Africa, the art of wood, stone and metal is quite popular and has been commercialized with overseas markets being quite fond of the handmade artwork from Africa. What pains me in hindsight, is the amount of art that is buried in the graves of Africa because it was not handed down nor immortalized as is done with artworks in developed nations. As a note, the picture below that says "Home" shows a piece made from iron which I crafted while doing metal work in my teen years. I guess I had a bit of my grandpa in me though the quality may not be as good and I never got to pursue the trade. It has become one of the most priceless items I possess given the work I put into it. The issue of succession planning is not an inbuilt concept in many
communities and most times, good businesses go to the grave with the founder and inventions are not taken seriously as they fade with the inventor. However, going back to my grandpa, he used a specialized heating device which created a mini furnace to soften the iron so that it would be easy to bend and shape to anything he wanted. It came out of the "furnace" red hot and he would then hammer it until it conformed to his desired shape. While I was watching, I had no idea what he had in mind sometimes, but he knew exactly what the outcome would be. Sometimes life is like a block of wood or iron and you are the one to work on it. It is within your mind and hands to determine what it is you want to create out of your life. People may not get it initially while you go out into the world to find raw material for use to create your own masterpiece. Not everyone knows what you are doing, planning to do or where you are going, but you know exactly what you have in mind. Sometimes for you to get that exact shape and end result you want, there has to be a lot of heat and heavy pounding. Only after a lot of hard work, shaping, heating and sweating do people start marveling and seeing what it is you were trying to achieve. Some may even start suggesting creative ways to complete the work. So continue toiling with passion and purpose. Pound that iron until you get the desired masterpiece at the end. Iron never gives in easily without heat, and so make sure you have got enough fire power to shape your world.