.... I turned in my 2nd English essay last week, and I should get the grade back this coming Thursday....... but in case any of you were wondering how Freshman Life was treating me, here's something to chew on until I choose to write again...... this one is supposed to be a "classification/division" essay...

by Eric SWG

The wife and I eased back on our smoking considerably about a year ago. Now we only smoke occasionally in the garage, where lately I have taken to sharpening my father’s old axe while I enjoy my evening cigarette. When my father died back in 2001, I took a few of his old tools and some of his rough iron artwork as keepsakes and arranged them on the walls of my garage. They hang there now proudly, and they remind me of the kind of man that he was. When I examine my life and his, I see that there are three types of men in this world. There are men who sharpen, there are men who cut, and there are men who don’t fit in.

Father was a cutter. A welder on the railroad by trade, his job was a hard and dirty one. He worked outdoors during all types of weather repairing engine burns, cracked rails, and broken frogs. He was a man who spent his life making a mark and leaving something tangible in his wake. He was never really that educated, having only squeezed through the fifth grade before beginning life as a farmhand, but he passed his youthful days creating toys for himself and his brother. He often told me stories of giving handmade bows and arrows to his brother so that they could play together. And as an adult, he continued to create. Be it a solid weld on the job or an anvil-beaten copper sculpture, he was always leaving something beautiful behind when he was finished. He cut. He bettered things. He built.

I remember helping him build the barn behind my mother’s house. I remember the awe that I felt as a child, watching him measure, cut, and nail. That he knew such a skill as building a barn filled me with pride and wonder. In just a week, a plot of land dotted with scraggly pine trees was transformed by his toil into a 30 by 40 foot space of civilization. He had built a structure that still weathers the ravages of time and will likely be standing when I am dead and gone. I admire that ability to this day, and I seek out friends who reflect that ability to create something beautiful, something useful, where there was once nothingness. I admire it, and I wish that I could do it.

As for myself, I am a sharpener. I am a sharpener in the figurative and literal sense, and Dad’s axe bears the proof of the latter. But as for the former, I have lived a much different life than my father. I watch, and I listen. I read, and I dream. I listen to stories from my friends, and I give them a different perspective. I coax. I sharpen their view. I grease the proverbial skids and try to create an environment where others’ endeavors are more easily successful. I have only built one building in my life, and I was proud of it. But I built it with my father’s guiding hand. I think of that building every time I lay the file onto the steel of his old axe in my garage.

My brother is a man who doesn’t fit in. The poet R.W. Service wrote a poem concerning this type of man. In the poem, he states that

“If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: ‘Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!’
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.”

That short stanza of poetry describes him perfectly. I have watched him work hard on a task for hours only to become distracted and steam off in a different direction. The task that he had begun remained unfinished. He is continually busy, but he never seems to end a day of toil with something completed to show for it.

There are three types of men in this world: There are those who do, there are those who imagine, and there are those who struggle. There are those who cut, there are those who sharpen the tools for the ones that do, and there are those who just don’t fit in. Father was a cutter, and having been shaped by him, I am a sharpener. I am absolutely certain that my brother is a man who just doesn’t fit in.

by Eric on March 11, 2012 | Bullshit (13) | TrackBack (0) | Thinking
Bullshit So Far

As one who admittedly "doesn't fit in" (I have two words: Absentibus Amicis), were I your teacher, I'd surely give you an A... provided that I didn't get distracted in the time it takes for my pen to reach the paper. It is a testament to your writing that my eyes did not avert from the page, not once, from beginning to end. This was heavenly to read.

Bullshitted by Erica on March 11, 2012 09:11 AM

I absolutely love-and am green with envy over- your ability, your gift, your genius when it comes to looking at something and finding something so much more. This is fantastic Eric. Really.

Bullshitted by Tammi on March 11, 2012 02:45 PM

... thank you, ladies.... y'all are too kind...

Bullshitted by Eric on March 11, 2012 03:43 PM

Well told Sir! I really like explaining your brother through a Service poem. Your love for family shines through.

Bullshitted by Rey B on March 11, 2012 04:30 PM

Beautifully written, Eric. As always....

Bullshitted by Richmond on March 11, 2012 05:25 PM

I like this piece. A lot. But you already knew that.

Bullshitted by Elisson on March 12, 2012 07:11 PM

I strongly suspect you are not the typical freshman that your professor receives...

Bullshitted by Bou on March 12, 2012 10:12 PM

How beautiful!

Bullshitted by pam on March 13, 2012 08:58 AM

Well done

Bullshitted by Nancy on March 13, 2012 11:48 AM

well done

Bullshitted by caltechgirl on March 16, 2012 01:30 PM

This is good. I need to check back here more often. You always make me think, make me smile, or touch my heart. Thank you.

Bullshitted by Mary on March 18, 2012 04:33 PM

As I've said, you are "...a natural 100% American writer..."

And I mean it!

Bullshitted by WitNit on March 20, 2012 12:06 PM

Seriously, Eric, you should take some of your best essays and pull them together in book form, perhaps telling a kind of American life in the process.

Publishing on Kindle is easy and free, if that's the route you would want to go. (I'd even me willing to give you tips for free.)

But I think your work is good enough that you could get an agent. I've had two in my life, and they are good to have. If this sparks anything in you, email me.

Mark Andre Alexander

Bullshitted by WitNit on March 20, 2012 12:12 PM