Alight here

Until now my creative side has been limited to small projects such as these wooden bird carvings, commissioned by my fiancee for wedding cake toppers.
Until now my creative side has been limited to small projects such as these wooden bird carvings, commissioned by my fiancee for wedding cake toppers.

Unemployed; liberated. I’m turning away from a successful and comfortable career in corporate sustainability and moving to rural England to study fine furniture making.

Why?

To help distil and make sense of this “brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness” – as Vladimir Nabokov once so concisely captured. That, in essence, explains both my decision to change career, and to write about it.

It turns out that this decision would have almost been worth the effort alone, given the reaction I’ve received. “…Are you serious?” is the most common outburst, followed by a slow smile of recognition when they see that yes, I am serious – in the jubilant sense of the word. After it sinks in, most people are eager to open up and share their own aspirations and dreams, seeing it as an overdue catharsis. Their surprise is consistently matched by my own at just how many appear to share similar thoughts, and the degree to which they align.

I hope my experience and thoughts help breathe oxygen into those sparks, making them glow too hot to keep in their back pocket any longer.

This blog will chart my journey from a renewable energy engineer working in sustainability for a large corporation in central Sydney, through to a fine furniture maker.

For me, university was primarily an excuse to plug into an instant social network after coming back from five years in England. No one explained to this idealistic and naive teenager – who envisioned a solar-powered world that would immediately solve all our environmental problems – that the most likely path that would result from his choice of Renewable Energy Engineering would end up in an office, driving a desk and receiving a wage that I viewed not as a reward, but as compensation. The insidious effect of a demanding and distracting office job, the effects of which I’ll discuss more in future posts, severely diminished the time I needed to chew the cud. However, by always giving myself enough time to read, I subconsciously followed authors and writers that ignited those repressed ruminations.

Of course realisations come in many forms, not just great literature. As a big fan of comedian Jim Carrey, it struck a chord when he said in a rare serious moment:

“All that there will ever be is what is happening here and the decisions we make in this moment that are based in either love or fear. So many of us chose our path out of fear disguised as practicality [because] what we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect.”

Fear prevented me from recognising this reality for what it was. More specifically, it was the fear of losing job security and not living up to others expectations. However, after running out of fingers to plug into the cracks forming in the dam of my discontent, I reached a point where I became desperate. I was willing to give all that away and risk failing, but at least failing at something I enjoyed. I wanted change – radical change, but I needed help. When my wife saw that I was starting to become blinkered by disaffection, she joined my search for a new direction, and found a furniture making course online that resonated with me instantly, for reasons I’ll share in more detail in future posts.

After I finish the course, working under David Savage in Devon, England, at the end of 2015, my aim is to operate my own workshop here in Sydney, producing Australian-inspired fine furniture.

I’ll use this blog as a record of my experiences when I start the course on 1 September 2014, and until then I will be posting further thoughts about the journey to date and what I want to get out of this new venture. Hit the ‘follow’ button above to receive an email when I post a new entry.

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