The Old Journeyman

The workshop smells of sawdust and oil. It’s been years since he’s been here and yet the well lit room is more familiar than home. He spent his youth here, learning from journeymen and masters about how to create. How to build. Then the war came and he answered the call to arms. There he learned different skills with different tools from different masters.

He’s older now. The years spent waiting and traveling and fighting, so much fighting. An old warrior, decades from when he was a young craftsman. The workbench feels warm under his strong, scarred hands. He’s been home for a while now. It’s not been easy. Years of battle leave their terrible mark. Yet he misses the struggle, the aliveness that comes with the chaos, cacophony and brotherhood you find in war. Now he needs something different. A task, a making. A creation to get lost in.

The pride of a craftsman is different from the pride of a soldier. Different and the same. The pride of doing a thing well. Or at least better than before. The pride of doing something that matters.

The tools have been well cared for in his absence. They feel familiar and strange. Like he last held them in a distant dream that he could never remember. Has it been too long? The tools are sharp and ready, but is he? Had the long years spent on other work left him unskilled for this. Only one way to find out. Start. And if his skills are lacking, he would find a way to improve them. There is still time.

“It’s never too late,” he whispers to the empty workshop. A prayer and a promise. He pulls some scrap pieces of oak from a bin and places them on the bench. It is a day for practice. The first of many.

He remembers the rules of his grandfather, the master he had first learned from. Keep things simple. Take care of your tools. Keep the workshop clean. Know what you are making. Give your best to your work. Learn from your mistakes. Remember that others depend on what you create. Build things to last. Simple rules, yet more profound now than when he first learned them. Perhaps that is wisdom. You could build anything with those rules - a chest, a home, a cathedral, a life.

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