I wish. I've never had a bird perch itself on my shoulder. The window is usually closed because I'm obsessively trying to control humidity and temperature within a range of 2%. 80% of the time, my monstrous dust collector is competing with my bandsaw, edge sander or router to see who can be the loudest. I wear ear and eye protection, and dust masks most of the time. You get the picture.
The same thing often happens when we think about yoga. It conjures up images of peaceful, meditative settings where we effortlessly flow between gravity-defying poses. The truth is known by anyone who has tried to meditate. When I sit, the voices in my head expressing regrets for the past are competing with the voices obsessing over the future to see who can be the loudest. And when I'm doing a challenging asana pose, those voices are often still present while being drowned out by yet another voice telling me my pose isn't good enough for a myriad of reasons. It's noisy. It's often sweaty. It's almost always exhausting while it's happening.
But just as in lutherie, there are moments. Moments when those perfect wood shavings are indeed created from perfectly sharpened tools because I took the time to sharpen them. And once in a while through all the toil, the sweat, the tears, the many years of struggle, there is evidence that I was paying attention. A customer sends me a kind note of appreciation. Someone listening to one of my guitars tells me they really enjoyed it, and I can tell they mean it. I sit and play a banjo I made for hours just for the enjoyment of it, and it lifts my spirits higher with every note. If there's a payoff, that's it. It's not financial, it's not fame, it's not external. Every luthier knows this. And every yogi who pays attention knows the same experience intimately. Somehow, all that dust settles into a distant memory and becomes irrelevant, even though at the time it often felt like such a pain I questioned why I was even bothering to go down this path.
The more I practice, the more I resonate with these words from Rumi:
"When someone beats a rug, the blows are not against the rug, but against the dust in it."
Please place your palms together. Inhale and lift your chest, exhale and blow the dust off the mirror...