Feels Pretty Natural

“A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of throwing an axe until they try it. It’s one of those primal things that actually feels pretty natural.”

–Jason Nip
(h/t π )

I split plenty of wood when I was growing up. Swinging an ax came to feel pretty natural to me. But throwing an ax? Primal or not, that would not feel natural to me. Not at first at least.

Mr. Nip is a 40 year old industrial designer who recently joined an ax-throwing league in Canada. He has discovered that throwing an ax feels pretty natural to him. (For more on the joys of ax-throwing, go HERE.)

The first few times I took someone’s deposition, the process seemed uncomfortable and unnatural. Eventually I took hundreds, maybe thousands, of depositions. Deposing a witness came to be part of a normal workday. It came to feel pretty natural.

A lot of things that would be unnatural to normal human beings became natural to me as an attorney. And now almost none of those things are of any use to me as a farmer/homesteader.

Instead I have had to take up a whole host of jobs that felt entirely unnatural at first, and begin the process of turning them into jobs that feel pretty natural. The old dog had to learn some new tricks. And now, every single day I perform multiple tasks that feel entirely natural, all of which would have been  strange and completely unnatural just a few years ago.

The transition has been easier in some areas than others. I’ve never had an aptitude for mechanical work, for example, so repairing things continues to be a challenge. But by and large anyone who followed me around for a day would assume that the daily work of farm/homesteading comes naturally to me. That would not have been the case a few years ago.

I think Mr. Nip is probably right. If I took up ax-throwing it would start to feel pretty natural to me after a while. Nevertheless, I don’t intend to start throwing axes. It’s just not high on the list of skills I’d like to add. But I’ll be very pleased when I don’t have to take equipment to the shop for repairs anymore–that is, when fixing them myself feels pretty natural to me.



15 comments on “Feels Pretty Natural

  1. BeeHappee says:

    🙂 I would so like to do the axe throwing. Not the taking deposition though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shoreacres says:

    Anyone who’s good at what they do gets the “that looks so easy” response from time to time: meaning, “that looks like you do it naturally.” I get that from time to time with my varnishing. Of course, it looks easy because of all the hard hours in the beginning. But who wants to hear about that?


    • Bill says:

      We probably all have skills that come more naturally than others. One of my clients was a heart surgeon, one of the first to do a heart transplant. He was a professor at a medical school as well. I once told him that I was amazed and awed by his ability to remove a person’s heart and replace it with another one. He shrugged it off and said something like, “Surgery comes easy to me. That skill is God-given. But writing academic papers is a major challenge. I get a much greater sense of satisfaction when I get one of those done, because I have to work so hard at it.” That really stuck with me. Writing briefs came easily to me (and he struggled to write) and surgery came easy to him (and was impossible for me). Of course he had to work hard to learn surgery just as I had to work hard to write good briefs, but it’s easier when the work matches something for which one already has an aptitude. I’m learning to be a mechanic as necessary, but I could learn to speak a foreign language more easily. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, no, I don’t think I would really like to learn axe throwing but now knife throwing, that would be an interesting skill for me to learn. Homesteading is a given for knowing many skills but master of none. Over the course of just being a home owner, I’ve learned how to do many things that has saved me thousands of dollars. Of course I was a mentor under my father who could build any thing, fix any thing, or figure out how to do anything. I probably will never attain his skill level but I did learn enough to save me a lot of money throughout my house owning years. When computers took over the car industry, I kind of gave up on cars except for simple things like brakes, exhaust, and other non computerized things. Besides it’s getting a little difficult to fit my aging rotund self under the vehicle or the hood. 🙂 With the advent of google search and YouTube, a video explaining how to do almost any thing can be found. I know it’s helped me out a lot. Who would have thought 20 years ago when the Internet was just in its infancy that we would be receiving instruction on any thing we had a desire to do on the Internet. I grew up around small farms and acreage growing so maintenance skills just came natural to me. I have great admiration for some one like you who came from a professional city occupation and had to learn every thing in a short period of time. I consider you a true modern day pioneer homesteader.

    Have a great skill learning and using day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill says:

      I learned a lot of skills growing up on the farm that are helpful today. And physical labor comes naturally to me. But for some reason I’ve always struggled with mechanical work. My brain just isn’t wired right for that. My Grandpa once said to me (when I had botched some simple mechanical task), “Bill you have good book sense, but no common sense.” My father was a first-rate mechanic who would have loved to teach me, but I just never felt comfortable with it. My younger brother eventually became his apprentice and took over the family business, while I went off to college and law school. But I do get a sense of satisfaction now when I finally master some basic mechanical skill. I’m doing a LOT more of that stuff now that I ever would have though myself capable of. Even old dogs can learn a few new tricks, it seems. And yes YouTube has been a great resource. I’ve very thankful to the people who take the time to make and post the instructional videos, especially when they’re of things most people shouldn’t need a video to teach them. 🙂


  4. avwalters says:

    The life we’re building (literally) now, feels more natural than my old work ever did. Partly that’s because building is in my family history and gardening has always been my solace. However, there is an analytical rhythm to legal work, a problem solving flow chart, that one applies thereafter to every problem encountered. Make no mistake, lawyering changes the way that you think–perhaps permanently. It’s just a question of what you do with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Yes, I agree with you. Not just anybody can practice law competently and few have the right skill set to do it with consistent excellence. But the ability to do a job well doesn’t necessarily mean the person will have the ability to do any job well. It reminds me of the time when Duncan Kennedy argued that all the jobs at Harvard Law School just be assigned randomly to the school’s employees. Another professor responded, “I don’t doubt that the janitor could teach Professor Kennedy’s constitutional law class, but I seriously doubt Professor Kennedy’s ability to do the janitor’s job.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Joanna says:

    I envy your axe skills. I have tried several times but my brain gets confused. I use a spade with either my left or right hand and interchange which foot I utilise too – but unfortunately my brain cannot seem to get the hang of which way would be the best way to swing an axe. It is almost as if I want to be either right or left handed at the start of the swing but by the time I get to the bottom of the swing it just doesn’t feel right and I feel I have started the wrong way round. Not sure that makes a whole lot of sense, but it does to me and has amused my husband when observing my attempts.


  6. Dearest Bill,
    Guess that a human being can try almost any thing and practice for mastering the new action so it will become second nature pretty soon!
    Sure it makes one beam with pride for having been able to avoid calling a repairman for economic reasons and for personal satisfaction. Words can barely describe that feeling.
    No, I would not love to throw an ax!


    • Bill says:

      I admit that I do feel a lot of satisfaction when I learn to do something that doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m finding that some of the things that were intimidating to me really aren’t that hard when you just buckle down and do it. And they’re even easier the second time. 🙂


  7. It must be something in the air. I JUST mentioned to L that I would like to be proficient at throwing a hatchet over lunch yesterday. I remember the first pile of logs I was tasked with splitting. I spent a lot of time with wedges. (Not the quickest method). 30 years later a friend’s 16 year old son challenged me to a splitting contest. I eyed his maul and grabbed my axe. No contest. I finished ten logs while he was working on his second.

    Now making bacon and guanciale is second nature, and I can shovel all day instead of being incapacitated for a week. Truly when one does a thing no matter how complex or “hard” it can become second nature. Axe and knife throwing, L says it’s a guy thing. 😉


    • Bill says:

      OK, I had to look up guanciale. 🙂

      Fortunately I don’t have to split the wood for our outdoor boiler. Now I spend my winter days with a chainsaw, not an ax. But I’ve split enough wood in my day that it still comes naturally to me.


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