Scientists used to blow their own glass for vials, beakers, dishes, tubes, and meters. Carpenters used to play a predominant role in the architectural and structural engineering components of construction. Our cities, at one point were entirely constructed on the tenets of craftsmanship.
Tailors, cabinetmakers, stonemasons. Timber framers, gunsmiths, jewellers. Metalsmiths, bricklayers, and tile setters. Carpenters, weavers, vintners. Chocolatiers, shoe cobblers, and brewmasters. Cheesemakers and boat builders. Clock makers, knife makers, watch makers. Painters, sculptors, and luthiers. Trunk makers and boxbuilders. Potters, bakers, chefs. Upholsterers and perfumers. These men and women of craft - of industry - at one point produced the music of the city. Pounding ballpeen hammer to anvil and weaving wool to the chromatic woosh of the loom.
And what now? Manufacturing has finally been done away with, outsourced. Good riddance they said. "We manage the financial districts - the global economy." Sort of, well - perhaps North America did at one point. So, what do we do now? The agents and salespersons and service industry generation is on the doormat and walking down the steps, unsatisfied with their final dip into the communal pot. And what of the youth eagerly camped out on the front lawn?
"Science, math, and languages are too hard."
"There's no upward mobility in the trades."
"An undergrad degree is the bare minimum requirement to earn a reputable living."
And what of the archetypal forms in European and North American craft? Will they too vanish into relics? Antiques worth their weight in Tantalum? Say goodbye to the industrial workbench, vice clamp, and lathe. Begone mallet, handplane, and shop apron. Farewell pencil, palette, and shoe last.
The mountains are purging themselves of their glaciers and everything is flowing heavily downhill. But I will not follow with, it is not for me to do. I have finally turned around and looked upstream, freezing water gushing through. My hands are swollen fists, and my bank account is clumsy at best. But this is my path - and I'm building a bridge back to the top.
If you don't build anything, don't sweat it. The world must go round, and we all must find jobs. But when you do have to make that purchase and it's nagging at you. Be it a blanket, badminton racquet, or bar stool. Just consider for one moment - that those dollars you will part ways with forevermore could be an investment.
Something you can pass on proudly to your grandkids. Something you will truly enjoy. Something you would like to take part in. Well, look around and see if you can find someone to build it for you. It is enriching.
Here's a good start for New Years resolutions. Less spending this year, take up a hobby or craft. Read more books. And less trips to IKEA.
Just so you know - there are cigars still rolled down the sunkissed thighs of cuban women; there are watches mechanized in the naturally lit lofts of Swiss crafthouses 4 centuries old; and there is a young man in an historic Vancouver studio - waiting to handcraft furniture for you.