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Preview: Slowing Down, The Schmee of a Successful Man

December 22, 2015

Slowing down might get you deeper: Harry Bryan reflects on a hand-made life. The word “schmee” is an OCH-ism used to describe the essence or the gestalt of someone (or something). It’s the thing that’s bigger than the sum of it’s parts, yet is difficult to put your finger on or describe in words.

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– Well, I turned 70 a month ago, but I must admit that somehow 70 did, and does, make me think. Makes me say, “It’s time to do something.” I feel now a stronger urge to pass on what I know and also a bit of what I believe. The things I believe are more the fact that we should slow down, the fact that life might be just as good if we slow down and take more time to do things. We are going to be healthier, mentally, and well, surely physically, too. And I grew up in my dad’s shop. He was not a woodworker, he was a doctor. But he did keep a hobby shop, and I know I spent much more time than he did in it and I don’t have any doubt that the skills I learned have stayed with me through my whole life. And that’s largely the basis of who I am. Dad did admire someone who worked with their hands, but he made the point of saying at the same time that you couldn’t afford to live where we lived if you worked with your hands. It wasn’t the life he chose or he thought that we should choose. It was important to what he termed “be successful.” He had friends who might be high up in the banking scene and he would point to that man and say, “There’s a successful man.” It was hard for him to see an unsuccessful son in that definition, but I just couldn’t apply myself, it just wasn’t me. I love the outdoors, I love making things, but academics, the discipline of setting down and grinding away at homework, I never could do and I don’t think I could do it any better today. Through starting with nothing and through our cruising to Australia and back, we kinda stumbled into a way of living which required less energy from the grid and we’ve also learned that the less money you require, the less time you need to spend making that money. My wife, Martha, has made a huge difference in my life and that’s simply by believing in me. All those guilty years at school, it had never occurred to me that it might not totally be might fault that there were ways that I might have learned better. Martha had said, “Look, if you wanna work with wood, “that’s what you should do.” And up to that point, for 24 years or so before that point, I had always thought, “Well, I don’t know what I’m gonna do “to make a living,” and so we decided, “Hey, we’re gonna buy a piece of land,” “go back to the land” as they say, and make something if we needed it rather than buy it, and that making rather than buying has always stayed with us as a philosophy. What keeps me going is just the continual learning. When I finally began to build boats, it’s very unfortunate to realize that my dad died and that I was in fact gaining a reputation that he could have been very, very proud of. I have worried a little bit about calling myself retired. I’m not sure just why because I’m not ready to stop building boats and yet, there’s no boat in the shop today and grandkids are here this afternoon. I’m gonna have four of ’em out here pretty soon, and surely, that’s as productive as anything else I could be doing.


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