New columnist intends to write about lessons learned from books and life

I spent four years at Santiam Lumber learning lessons from the hardest workers I’ve met – log truck drivers. 

Many of their hobbies included fishing, hunting, and driving in the woods; whereas mine included reading, writing and journaling. They wore Carhartt jeans. I wore business-casual slacks. They drove massive diesel rigs. I rode a Surely road bike to work. 

I didn’t fit in and they knew it, but they graciously taught me valuable lessons in spite of me being an outsider. 

I watched from my weigh shack as these men and women hauled tons of timber on a seemingly endless loop. They woke up at 2 a.m. (sometimes earlier), wrestled with the cold, fought mechanical failures and negotiated time. I learned from them the importance of waking up, showing up and keeping up.

During those four years I was struck by the truck driver’s dedication to maintenance. In order to keep a log truck operating, the drivers would grease, oil, wash, check tire pressure and constantly monitor things like hydraulic fluid. 

Many of these log truck drivers spent their weekends changing out tires, repairing issues, and/or working under the hood of their vehicles for hours, sometimes days. 

I learned from them the importance of being faithful to one’s craft, even after regular work hours. 

While I was in the weigh shack I simultaneously worked on a master’s of divinity degree and a master’s in counseling. Between trucks I read books, listened to lectures, and wrote papers. Somewhere in that time frame I joined the Oregon National Guard. 

I found myself between trucks and during breaks reading, writing and preparing short sermons. Just as the truck drivers made their rounds from the woods to the mill and back again, I learned how to make my rounds from books to papers to sermons.

 I incorporated, as best as I could, the hard work ethic of the log truck driver into my school work. Abraham Lincoln is attributed for saying, “if you give me six hours to chop down a tree, I will spend four of those hours sharpening my axe.” 

Like a wood chopper sharpening the axe, I’ve learned that daily maintenance and the daily round of routine sharpen one’s craft in the long run. 

I suppose this is why I want to write columns for Lebanon Local. My craft is counseling, podcasting, teaching, preaching and connecting ideas. In order to do this, I must maintain the habit that I learned during my four years in the weigh shack – reading, writing, repeat, reading, writing, repeat. 

I read a lot. I read as widely as I can. This is an occupational necessity. As I dedicate myself to sharpening my axe, the mind, the only tool I use in my work, I want to share the insights, ideas, and connections I come across. 

I may occasionally write about perspectives I’ve gained in the work I do, or things I see happening in our community, but mostly it will be about the things I’m learning. 

As I read, write and prepare for teachings, lectures, workshops, sermons, and podcasts, I hope to take some of the legwork out of choosing a new book for readers of Lebanon Local. 

As I come across books that I am reading, I will write a review. Hopefully, readers will find these reviews helpful when choosing a book to read.