Posted by: syncopated1 | June 29, 2011


The boy had learned over the last year that shame manifested itself in the tightening of his shoulders and back to the point of pain. They were sore now; much improved since the week before when they smarted as though he had been whipped. Six days ago he had blithely finished the work his master had set before him and had gone home pumped full of pride at his “great skill as a craftsman,” only to return to the shop the next day to find his master stoically undoing much of his work. The master had worked in silence for the better part of the morning resolutely ignoring the apprentice’s growing dismay and self loathing. He only spoke when the boy nervously asked after the extent of his error and then it was only to tersely answer,”None of it can be saved.” When the work had been undone, the master moved to doing the work as it should have been done, and assigned the apprentice work of the simplest nature; to reinforce just how juvenile his mistake had been.

Now, almost a week later, master and apprentice had returned to something of their normal working relationship. The apprentice had turned to the craft with renewed vigor and focus, doing his utmost to remain present while working. Today, the two had worked side by side, working on either side of the same piece of art. The master had easily finished each step roughly three times as quickly as his student. So the boy had watched, studied, asked questions and by the end of the day had very, very nearly accomplished all that the master had, even if it had been with a few hiccups and much awkwardness.

While heading home he had been reminded of all that his mother and father had told him his whole life over, “You may as well turn your whole being to the task at hand, son,” they had said when he was very young, “no man is capable of doing, thinking, or saying two things at once. So do what is in front of you to the best of your ability, and move on to the next task.”


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