Wednesday – right in the middle of the intensity of a Tinkering School week, often times just as we reach the climax of our project. And it is exactly this timing that makes Wednesday what it is – not another push, but rather a halt.
Wednesday is beach day.
At breakfast, there is more play – we tell lame jokes, learn “Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe” from Daniel. Even the anticipation of beach day changes our perspective.
Footprints in the sand, left behind as we set off in search of a place to claim as our own. We’ve left the confinement of the barn for the outdoors, traded the dining room for open stretches of sand. We have a chance to exhale.
Shelters of wood fill the beach – works of art people have added to over time, functional structures that protect the inhabitants from the wind, but always temporary. Like our projects at Tinkering School, which we disassemble at the end of week, impermanent.
We remove ourselves from the problem we’ve focused on – our downhill train, and play for a minute with the remnants of last session’s catamaran. We saved one of the four hulls for just this scenario, fit it into the back of a truck, and worked out how to carry it the quarter-mile down the beach. Sometimes, the best way to solve a tricky problem is to stop thinking about it, and play with and explore other problems. Beach day gives us this opportunity.
The beauty of playing in the ocean is, as Josh puts it: “If you capsize, it’s like going for a swim.” Beach day represents the lack of rules, as close to complete freedom as we have the ability to be.
Beach day captures what Tinkering School is about. An open sky, a budding adventure in the background, and sheer love for the art of tinkering, and what comes with it.
When the sky’s the limit, anything is possible. Riding flat on your back on a wooden boat out into the ocean; taking up a surfboard and catching waves; beach day is about being fearless, about pushing the boundaries of possible, about reminding ourselves that we can achieve our goals, that we’re here, at tinkering school, doing the impossible.
How do we reach the sky? One foothold at a time, climbing slowly to the top.
Beach day is about renewal – about rising from the ashes, coming up fresh for the last half of the session. Music, in particular adds to the atmosphere.
Beach day gives us a chance to grow closer, to strengthen the bond we’ve formed with our fellow tinkerers. When we don’t have tasks in front of us, free from the division of teams. Beach day unites us, reminds us that at heart, we’re all tinkerers.
We get a chance to sleep, too.
Laughter – a form of renewal.
We take a moment to learn from our first trip – to discuss, as happens so naturally at Tinkering School, what we can improve on – it’s this attitude that will carry us forward through the next few days.
Improvements come in the form of logs underneath the hull for easier transport. Ballast is added. And not willing to be defeated, the tinkerers push the boat into the water. At the beach, we are invincible.
Confidence is high, energy is back. Beaches boost our morale.
Tinkerers are risk-takers. We’re not afraid to pick up power tools, to wield knifes, to take on the world with our creations. So what’s a little water, a few waves? Somehow, our approach to the beach, in the context of being a tinkerer, is different.
Resetting is important. We come in Sunday morning, fresh. By Tuesday evening, we’re exhausted. Wednesday offers that chance – not by stopping, not by doing nothing, but instead by letting ourselves out to different challenges, to directing our energy in a different way, so that when Thursday comes, we can reel ourselves in.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Rachel gazing off into the distance.
Even for collaborators, beach day provides a much needed change, a chance to get in touch with our inner enthusiasm, a chance to think on all that’s occured.
Tinkerers are different away from the ranch – we catch rare moments we wouldn’t necessarily experience otherwise. We see each other in new lights.
We return home with new perspectives, ready to start anew. Ready to face anything.
Beach day is an exercise in contradiction. We stop in order to make more progress. We embrace freedom to achieve more focused control. We take a break in order to challenge ourselves. But, it works. And tomorrow, we will return to the barn; ready to work, renewed, refreshed, and reset. Today was exhausting – but that exhaustion lets us keep going.