Making Sense Of It All

One can always learn new things … and glean wisdom and knowledge from the experience and knowledge of others. The trick is to have the ears to listen and the heart to receive … not to mention the brain to decipher it all.

One of my present jobs is working for a local publisher, co-ordinating product pages and club profiles for what is Australia’s most esteemed woodworking magazine. This brings me into contact with a huge gamut of businesses and individuals from whom I am required to request material – visuals and words – which is then used to promote their goods and services to a dedicated band of enthusiasts across the land who actively utilise said goods and services in the pursuit of their woodworking interests. Simple!

But here I must say that I am staggered at just how difficult the task can be at times. Given the opportunity to showcase their wares in the nation’s longest running and most respected woodworking title – now beyond its bicentennial edition and marking more than 60,000 readers each issue – it is amazing how so many operators have an apathy and reluctance to make the effort to jot down words and submit images so that their business can be promoted and reach the hugest target audience … all for free! There seems to be such a disdain for actually ‘getting the job done’ and seizing such a wonderful opportunity. And there is a suspicion that ‘it’s all too good to be true’ … a suspicion which seems to permeate so much of our contemporary culture.

And then there are the marketing and promotions departments and dedicated PR companies behind some of the big names in the industry. Many seem so very lazy in their approach; many others are cloaked in such secrecy and hide behind receptionists who appear to be briefed to ‘let no one talk to us’, said receptionists being so vigilant in their efforts that it is like extracting teeth to make contact, let alone achieve the goal of gathering information and imagery that will ultimately see them editorialised in a magazine geared to their audience. But I digress, save registering here my frustration and acknowledging the incredulous behaviour of many business operators large and small.  

It’s my relationship with the publisher which causes me to ruminate the most.

The company started many years ago, its success and longevity being testament to the passion and commitment of one gentlemen and his wife who fervently believed in a concept with such zeal that they laid all on the line and set about establishing a magazine – and a business – that would serve and reach a world of woodworking enthusiasts who they believed would appreciate their commitment and efforts. And over the years their readership has done just this. In time two of their three sons have joined the ranks and continue to pursue the vision of their parents with a dedication and professionalism that, in this day and age, has diminished in so much of the mainstream publishing world.

Taking over the helm and continuing to create a product that remains true to the initial vision of their parents – and at the same time moving with the trends and shifts within the industry as they have occurred across the years – these two brothers continue to create a first-class product that is in step with the interests and passions of their readership and serves the interests of the businesses and suppliers who create and provide the goods and services targeted at this collective reading audience. Thus I can never grasp why there should ever be the slightest reticence or hesitation to jump on board and supply me with the wealth of information and product that I humbly request to showcase within the title’s pages.

But still I digress!

The publisher is now in his 80s. He’s one of those souls who carries around a lifetime of experience and wisdom that, if tapped into, would fuel the talk of a thousand dinner parties and provide the fodder for a hundred novels!

Thankfully he has penned a few tomes over the years and continues to write the odd article or two for the magazine as he shares endless knowledge and insight. He continues to entertain and fascinate with his stories of old times, current times and his perceptions of what is happening in our world, and why!

Recently we had the opportunity to compare notes – and to exchange books that we have both recently written. His is called ‘It Wasn’t Like That’ which wonderfully rebukes preconceived ideas of what the past was like. Mine is my latest Christmas book ‘A Christmas Memory – Wroxton Revisited’ which showcases the changes in Christmas traditions and looks within my property in the NSW Blue Mountains, documenting a personal journey of evolution, personal hardship, the origins of myths and traditions and discloses a renewed passion for the festive season and all that I hold dear about the celebration of the Holy Season – and why.

After reading the first part of my book – Art Burrows, my erudite publisher – mentioned to me that he regarded my work as focusing on all that is good, while he felt that his own book was more concerned with things that have not been quite so. I thought about his assessment for just a moment and then took him to task, explaining that ‘Wroxton Revisited’ is, in reality, very much crafted and written from the same place … of trying to make sense of the world and all that I have lived through. Of all that was not right – a cathartic journey to make sense of and reconcile the past; to heal from Christmases long ago that were tragically devastated by a father intent on destroying all things holy and sacrosanct connected with the season and any joy shared by his young family.

And the basic truth is that the writing process was very much part of a physical healing as its creation gave me a reason each day to get out of bed – initially on a Zimmer frame and later on crutches – as my body repaired from a near-fatal fall. The writing process was integral to moving forward and healing on so many levels. It also helped me rationalise just why the season is so significant and important to me in adult life as I reverse the things of past days and embrace the richest opportunities and blessings as Christmas comes around each year.

As in life, it’s all about the process of making sense of it all … to learn the lessons of the past and embrace the possibilities of times to come. To hold to the simple joys that each day brings, acknowledging at the same time where one has come from and why such simple joys are so very precious in the here and now.

Indeed my publisher and I may have approached the issue from opposite ends of the spectrum, but have ultimately come to the same place in the present … that life may NOT have been what is was perceived to be, or should have been. ‘It Wasn’t Like That’ … but it is what it was and each day today and tomorrow is born fresh with new possibilities and simple pleasures, and these are the things that we each should embrace and hold on to … shunning away the frustrations and difficulties that will always come. It is what we make it … and my choice is to make of it the very best that I can!

Until next time


As a special offer to team up with this blog, we’re offering ‘A Christmas Memory … Wroxton Revisited’ for the special price of $50 all up … including postage to anywhere in Australia! When you phone your order through – 0419 977 758 – or via the order form on the site here, mention the code words MAKING SENSE and this special discounted offer is yours. There is a limited quantity of the book left and once it’s gone this festive season it won’t be reprinted so get in soon!