John Casey Clark
I am a person of many ambitions. Some may believe this attitude to be a blessing; others may view it as a curse, I am still on the fence. I began building at a young age. I grew up on a farm with a dad who has a similar ambition. The attitude of, “well, if he can do it, then why can’t I.” This led to many building projects, the first of which that I got to participate in at age 10, the extending of our house and building of our living room. Through the course of my life, my ambitions have taken on many identities. In high-school, the goal was to be a college athlete. I did that. In college, my goal was to pursue a career in which I helped people. After switching my major five times, including a minor in ministry, I did that. I finally landed in the field of Occupational Therapy a field to which I am still very active in today. Occupational Therapy provided a means for me to return full circle to what where my ambitions are directing me today: Building. In 2011 I took on the most honorable project of building my home on the family farm that has been in my family for five generations. I served as the general contractor and physically completed the interior finishes. While building the house, I began dating my wife, and with her design influence, we finished the house together to make it our home. I share this seemingly side-tracked detail to lead to the reason I began building furniture. Once my wife and I moved into our home, she was ready to furnish it and found a design on Pinterest that she wanted me to attempt. This was my first attempt at furniture. The table turned out–okay. It now serves as our outdoor table. From there I was inspired to improve, to build the dining room table that my wife truly wanted. Fortunately, we had just pushed over an old Walnut tree on our farm, and a dear friend of our family helped me cut it up into manageable logs. He also had a band-saw mill to cut the logs into useful boards for a table. A local bourbon barrel factory allowed me to use their kiln to dry the wood. Finally, after months of preparation and building, I finished the table and had it in our dining room in time for Thanksgiving dinner. The entirety of that process inspired me. From a tree that stood for years on our family farm to a dining table that my family will sit around for years to come.
The storied detail behind the build is something that I have developed a true appreciation for. Fortunately for me, I am not alone in that appreciation. Our culture is taking on what I’d like to call “an old soul.” People are beginning to appreciate handcrafted things again. Whether it be the furniture in your house, the photos on your wall, or the food in
your garden, people have a deeper appreciation of one-of-a-kind items and the process that goes into making them.
Building furniture is something that I love. The detail, the design, the process, the learning, the pragmatism. There is an unmatched satisfaction with taking a stack of lumber and turning it into a unique something for someone.
I’ll finally say this. In this life, we are given many opportunities to learn, to grow, to improve. My faith leads to a high level of optimism in my many aspiring ambitions. Optimism that I would not have without my faith. As a Christian, we are called to live a life of following Christ. We are to live as Christ lived. While Jesus was many inspiring things, Jesus was also a carpenter. In aspiring to live a Christ-filled life, I believe my beginnings of a finishing carpenter brings to full circle the attitude of “Why can’t I.”