A place for his stuff

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I never met him, but as a lifelong fan I feel that George Carlin, who died Sunday, was a friend.

While he is undoubtedly most famous for his “Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television” routine, students of comedy have noted for years that Carlin’s true comedic talent wasn’t saying dirty words, but rather simple observation. Carlin saw something common in life, something we all see day after day, and somehow always managed to find the humor in it that we all missed.

One of the best examples of this was his routine on stuff. “All you need in life is a place for your stuff,” he would say in one of his most popular routines. “This is my stuff, that’s your stuff, and that’ll be his stuff over there.”

The key to the routine is that, as humans, we have a love for our things. And when it comes to our things – our stuff – we have a place for everything and everything in its place. I think that woodworkers, perhaps more than others, have a specific sense of stuff; enough so that we require, and enjoy, having a dedicated space for our woodworking stuff. Our shops; our stuff.

I’ve mentioned before in this blog about the pleasure I take being in the shop, and I don’t mean just when I’m working in it (although that’s highly pleasurable, too), but just being in there at the end of the day, looking at and taking in all of my stuff. After spending several hours working in the shop yesterday, I ended the day as I often do: spending a bit of quiet time in the shop taking stock of the day’s work. There’s the stuff I’m working on – in this case a folding table – still up-ended on the table saw. There’s stuff on the floor in the form of a sweetly aromatic small pile of cedar wood chips from the table. Stuff is out on the workbench that I’ll need the next shop session, and I have other stuff waiting in the wings to work on.

Everybody needs a place for their stuff, according to Carlin. And I have a place for mine. Sure, I have closets and an attic to store stuff, and lots of other stuff scattered throughout the house, but that’s all part of the house, the stuff that makes it a home. As such, I get the same feeling whether I’m in the living room, the dining room, or the hall because the stuff there is all part of the same mindset.

But I feel different when I’m in my shop, simply because the stuff in there is special.

I’m sure Carlin would have understood perfectly.

Till next time,

A.J.

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