As I was driving home last night from a terribly long day at work, I heard the deep, soothing voice of Garrison Keillor reading a poem on NPR’s 5-minute show The Writer’s Almanac. The poem he read, Putting in a Window, was written by John Brantingham and it calmed my nerves from the day and put me in a better mood. I wanted to share it with you.

Here’s the poem. Read it to yourself. Slowly, and aloud.

Putting In A Window | John Brantingham
© Finishing Line Press. Georgetown, Kentucky

Carpentry has a rhythm that should never
be violated. You need to move slowly,
methodically, never trying to finish early,
never even hoping that you’d be done sooner.
It’s best if you work without thought of the
end. If hurried, you end up with crooked
door joints and drafty rooms. Do not work
after you are annoyed just so the job
will be done more quickly. Stop when you
begin to curse at the wood. Putting in
a window should be a joy. You should love
the new header and the sound of
your electric screwdriver as it secures
the new beams. The only good carpenter
is the one who knows that he’s not good.
He’s afraid that he’ll ruin the whole house,
and he works slowly. It’s the same as
cooking or driving. The good cook
knows humility, and his soufflé never falls
because he is terrified that it will fall
the whole time he’s cooking. The good driver
knows that he might plow into a mother
walking her three-year old, and so watches
for them carefully. The good carpenter
knows that his beams might be weak, and a misstep
might ruin the place he loves. In the end,
you find your own pace, and you loose time.
When you started, the sun was high and now
that you’re finished, it’s dark. Tomorrow, you
might put in a door. The next day,
you’ll start on your new deck.

The calm and craftsmanship of the good carpenter as he does his work is something that I admire and attain to have. Not only in carpentry, but in my own art and in my life. What does it say to you?