Sanding Thoughts

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It's Stranger Than You Think...

We’ve all been standing in the shower and caught ourselves deep in thought about some arbitrary topic, like that awkward interaction you had with that teller the other day when you said “good thanks and you?” twice.

Well, for those who don’t already know this, a similar phenomenon tends to happen when sanding too; however, when one is in this so-called shower thought state of mind for up to six hours at a time, it becomes a whole different kettle of fish.

In the start of the morning, after greeting the other tjoms, offloading my belongings in the gym, and carrying down the items in need of sanding (let’s say campus rungs, for example), I usually start myself off with a nice staunch cup of coffee, which allows me time to review my work for the day.

Almost always, my first thoughts go as follows:

“Damn, these rungs are looking fine”

“Mmm this rose wood smells so good”

“Look at that grain”

Campus rungs

Starting off super psyched and ready to go, I grip an orbital sander and get to work.

My mind is preoccupied by sanding and environmentally related concepts, for example, “am I in anyone’s way?” or what order I should sand each face in.

About 2 hours in, I usually realise that I’ve been sanding for two hours already and decide its time for a break. At this point, the abstraction has just started to set in, but there are still real-world matters to be mulled over, like “I should probably put on my dust mask” or “Maybe I should swap hands”, or a change in music? After some adjustments (and very likely more coffee), I start up the sander again and, at this point, probably start changing to finer grits of paper.

After about four hours of hand vibration, weird ambient music, coffee stimulus and the constant drone of the sanders motor, Ones thoughts tend to get pretty dissociative, often unrelated to one’s direct surroundings, or even prior thoughts. During this stage the mind wanders and floats, like a jellyfish, and there is a kind of uninterrupted flow of consciousness, which is not aimed in any particular direction. This, at least for me, results in a sort of dream-like recollection of some of the things that passed through my mind, which I feel will be completely lost in my explaining them.

This mental fugue state lasts the remainder of the sanding session, but tapers off slowly after the point at which its time to pack up the sander, extension cords etc. 

Now its time to carry the rungs back upstairs. This physical effort is quite jarring, and reminds one of the body again, and of other people, and the workshop surrounding them, it all comes flooding back, and I pop out my earphones, pull up a chair on the balcony, and what do you know?

Someone is always there to lend me an ear and give me their sanding thoughts, whatever they may be.

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