“I’m walking through this world not in search of a trail to follow but in recognition that the trail is waiting for me to blaze.” Wise words to live by from Clint Harp, in the latest book from my reading list, Handcrafted.
I love nice furniture, but have little interest in the process of how it gets made. Given that, my latest read might have been an odd choice for me, and could’ve been dull as mud. Thankfully, it wasn’t.
Handcrafted by Clint Harp is much more than a biography of a carpenter…I’m sure he’d say that the New Testament is much more than a biography of a carpenter as well, so it pays to be curious. Although then again, I doubt Harp would want to compare himself to Jesus in any way.
Harp is the carpenter sidekick of Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper, and host of his own slightly less well-known show, Wood Work which ran on DIY Network a couple of years back.
I was given the book by someone who knows how much I liked the Fixer Upper show and what the Gaineses- Joanna and Chip – have done for their hometown of Waco. I didn’t grow up in Waco, so it’s hard for me to imagine just how run-down and deserted the downtown was only a couple of decades back. Now, it’s a hot tourist destination (well, not now…thanks Corona Virus!) full of trendy little bistros and clothing stores, a busy renovated theater and crowds of people from all over. Although the success of the university football and ladies basketball teams have helped as had the mere fact the city is about half-way along the highway between the exceptionally fast-growing cities of Dallas and Austin, a great deal of that newfound popularity owes itself to just one thing – Fixer Upper and the charimsatic Gaines family. Their Magnolia companies. renovated some old grain silos downtown, turned it into a store and food truck center and have since opened a bakery and cafe (with plans to add a church, softball field and whole row of new shops soon). It’s been amazing to see the city catch on in the past few years and the likable couple of Joanna and Chip go from being home renovators you’d sometimes glimpse standing outside a construction site to regulars on magazine covers and on TV shows like Today.
They play a huge part in Clint’s book and success too. Clint was the go-to carpenter on the smash reno show, and as a result his own business, Harp Design has become a tourist spot in its own right and he’s hired on a busload of helpers to keep the shop and his resultant store running. But as the book shows, it’s not been an easy road for him, nor a destination he foresaw.
And that’s the interesting part of the book. Clint never aimed to be a professional carpenter as a kid… in fact, for some time he figured maybe he could become a professional musician (and hey, he’s an REM fan apparently…more reason to like him!). He did fine as a high-paid salesman, which was great except he hated the job. Handcrafted outlines just how odd, and difficult a walk for him and his family. Be it God or good luck, Harp’s followed his gut so to speak, and it seems to have turned out quite well. At times when many would turn around and backtrack, he’s pressed onwards. But there’d been arguments along the way and sleepless nights working away to meet deadlines which loomed large. Along the way, he learned how little he knew, an important lesson the wise among us all come to find out sooner or later..
In short, the book shows the value of following one’s goals, and priororitorizing one’s life. An ordinary guy who believed in himself, was lucky to have a wife who did the same and has fumbled on through, not getting sunk by the losses and appreciating the little wins along the way.
I once saw Clint trying on shoes in a local department store, just as Fixer Upper was starting to take off. I recognized him from the show, but didn’t approach him. I rather regret that now. I hope now I’ll have the opportunity again some day. The guy’s wasn’t born with a silver spoon and has a lot of lessons to teach… and hey, two R.E.M. fans are seldom at a loss for conversation!