September 28, 2013
Bending, twisting, welding, clamping, drilling. Metals manipulated, transformed into practicality, rendered for use. Ultraviolet sparks spray from the welding gun landing on the floor like scorching rain drops. I watch through the screen on the backside of my camera to not be blinded by the direct sight of the molten metal. A sight so vibrant, bright, and supernatural, a beauty too intense to be looked at directly.
A human’s best shot at imitating and harnessing the natural energy of stars. All once the inside of those celestial beings, now transformed into metal, the tools that manipulate the metal, as well as the human manipulating the tools manipulating the metal. Casey is this particular human’s name, I met him a couple of days ago here in Bend, Oregon. I’m grateful to him for providing me shelter from the storm. I’ve already been feeling the dreaded cold and winter is not even here yet. I spent the whole day in the rain yesterday on the lonely highway that cuts right down the middle of the state. I feel that it must have been the first rain this arid land has seen in some months. High desert spotted with shrubs, a few trees here and there and a chill that managed to penetrate through my many layers and rob me of my core warmth.
The rain has only got stronger since I’ve arrived here and I’m lucky to be inside this world. Metal rods, twisted tubes, wood blocks, gutted out old cars, half-finished artisan metal work, gloves, goggles, lifts, drills, saws, engines; an art studio for the practically minded. I watch Casey in a sort of trance as he loses himself in his passion. It doesn’t seem to matter what he builds as long as he is using his logic, creativity and his hands.
He doesn’t seem to be the academic type but finds his purpose and flow in building, specifically with the medium of metal. Even though he is still in his humble beginnings, he’s managed to accomplish a beautiful thing by combining passion and practicality. He has blurred the line between making a living and doing something he loves.
I get lost in thought, my brain consolidates the sounds of drilling, hammering, rainfall on the ceiling and 90’s rock buzzing out of the worn boom box into a single tone; the background soundtrack to my pensiveness. Have I been able to combine passion and practicality yet? I’m certainly passionate about what I’ve been doing; traveling, photography, writing and learning. I am learning practical skills here and there, how to share, communicate, navigate different worlds etc., but the fact is that it is not a sustainable lifestyle. Eventually I’m going to have to take a break from wandering the world and contribute to other’s needs and wants. Everything seems to be compromised, the land really is cursed so that we would have to toil all of our days to be able to eat from it. We cannot simply be must do as well. It is the way things are, but I guess there are valuable lessons in doing as well as being.
There are a thousand career paths I could take and be happy and fulfilled with, all that matters is that I choose something. That is what this trip has been about for me; I get a small glimpse into the lives and choices of others and it opens up worlds of possibilities. I think what Casey here is doing is great. I love the idea of building, manipulating matter, and creating for others. I could just stay here and learn under his wing but there is so much more out there, so many other worlds I haven’t seen or even imagined yet.
I feel too young and unaware to settle on something, to decide. I’m six months into this trip and I feel further from knowing what I want to do with my life than when I left. I put off the tough decisions for a rainy day but its pouring outside. Each rain drop taps at my conscience and begs me to decide as I stand in static awe at the flames spewing from the welding gun. Each blast of heat melts the metal and changes its form forever, there’s no turning back, the fantastic brightness of ultimate decisions…