I recently found out that I had been the subject of a short essay from a new author. Even though I’ve been interviewed on a podcast and had some of my work featured in Wood Magazine, reading this essay gave me a feeling of pride unparalleled to even my best project. I wanted to feature this essay on this blog to not only share something that really touched me but also to introduce a very talented writer and craftsmen to all of you… so without further ado I present a short essay written by my son, Mike Merzke Jr.
During the early years of my life there were many defining moments and relationships that set me down the path I’m on. The relationship I had with my father played a very strong role in my decision of a career and how I choose to live my life. Whether I was visiting my dad for a day or for a month you could guarantee that a lot of that time would be spent working in his wood shop. Having access to tools and someone to teach you how to use them only the beginning to a life long journey of making.
My parents being divorced and my dad being in the army I didn’t always get to see him a lot, so when we able to visit the time was very important to us. He would always be in the middle of some big project that I would get to work with him on. And while helping with these projects I would pick up little bits of information on how each tool worked and so much more. For many of these projects we would build something that was applicable to me. In hindsight, I can now see why he did that. So that I would realize that making things can be interesting, fun and serve a purpose. Which I would find out later in life with my career choice.
While working with my father I started to enjoy making things, whether it was with wood or metal, if we were working with our hands we were happy. There something about working a long hard day, that satisfaction of when you’re finished for the day and you take a step back just to admire what you have created. Along with the feeling of accomplishment you feel humbled to do the same thing that generations and generation of people before us have done. After a period of time you start to enjoy the sounds and smells of the shop as if it wouldn’t be the same without them. I’ve also come to learn that there is no alarm clock more effective than a miter saw cutting at five in the morning.
Out of all the projects my dad and I did together my favorite had to have been my eagle scout project. This was by far the most rewarding project that I ever completed. It consisted of building and installing 6 benches for a local children’s home. This project used a culmination of many of the skills my dad had taught me over the years. Planning for a project, drawing plans/design, figuring costs, cutting parts, assembly, installation and more my dad had all taught me or influenced me in some way.
Having these very fond memories of building things and being in a shop atmosphere for extended amounts of time left me with a desire for more. So, my senior year of high school I started looking around at my options for careers with the general idea I didn’t want to go to a 4-year college and I wanted to work with my hands building things. During this time, I looked at many different trade schools and work-education programs but one apprenticeship would stick out the most: Apprenticeship 2000. At the time and still now my career of choice was clear to me, a machinist. Without the guidance and teaching of my dad in the shop and out I don’t think I would have found a successful and fulfilling career. The best way to learn is to do and my dad gave me that opportunity.
~ Mike Merzke Jr.
I am not going to even try to put into words the feeling I got when first reading this… but I think there was some sawdust in the air because I think I got some in my eyes. My son has grown up to be a good man with a strong work ethic and is honing his skills in the craft he chose. I am proud of him and proud to have been able to be a part of his journey. Knowing that there are men like him going out into the world to help shape the future gives me hope. So, if I can leave you with anything I would just say to invest in the future by sharing your passions. The seeds planted might not always immediately be seen but one day someone shares something as powerful as this with you and you know it was all worth it.