The Creative Zone: Serendipity/Synchronicity

August 31, 2014

I carried out my last assignment in the Air Force from 1991-1994, before retiring. I taught Korean at the Defensive Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, California. It was at that time I designed and built the entertainment center.

Prior to that, I was working in Seoul, Korea, as a Korean translator (1987-1991) at the ROK/US Combined Forces Command HQ.

It was then that I became interested in woodworking and design, and I designed and  built the boat desk, boat bed, caboose bunk bed and a few other things:

tim at the boat desk 001boat bed with Captain tim 001caboose 001

So in 1994, I retired from the Air Force and moved to Seattle with my family to put roots down and settle there permanently. I was eager to get back in the “wood shop” (the garage) and see what else I could come up with.

We had just moved into a house we rented at the time.

shop 001

I was moving and arranging the furniture in the house. It was still in chaos. My Korean books and dictionaries were laying in a pile on the floor in a corner of the room. My two young boys were watching “Honey, I Blew Up The Kids”. I thought about my Korean books and suddenly I realized I didn’t have a bookcase to put them on.

They had been in my office in Korea in the Republic of Korea/United States (ROK/US) Combined Forces Command HQ Translation Branch, where I last worked in Korea:

cfc 001

Then as I passed by one of the bedrooms as I was going down the hallway, I saw a Korean arts and crafts memento I had bought at Mount Sorak Resort in Korea:

Lil Korean Gate 001

It was a wooden picture frame designed to resemble the typical front gate you see everywhere in front of the houses in Korea. You enter the gate, pass through the courtyard, and go into the house. It was an iconic memento, representing an important aspect of the culture and architecture of Korea. I also thought it was a clever design.

The front of the frame had two doors that opened so you could see the photo but if you turned the frame around you discovered a mirror on the back. So it had great form and function as well.

That’s when I had a rapturous moment!

Build a bookcase to look like the picture frame and then put all my books in it!

So to summarize this serendipitous moment:

First, I saw my Korean books and dictionaries on the floor.

Second, the need for a bookcase.

Third, as I walked through the house I heard the guy in the movie say, “Honey, I blew up the kids!“.

Fourth, I noticed the  Korean picture frame sitting on a speaker.

So in that instant I thought “Blow up the picture frame big enough to hold all the books!!”

I had just conceived the idea for the first ever Korean style bookcase to resemble the iconic front gate of houses there:

Korean Bookcase 001

But wait, there’s more!

So I stopped to pick up the frame and look at it closely to imagine how I would duplicate it in the shop to hold all the books and look good too.

As I looked closely at it, I noticed the roof line had cove cuts.

cove cuts 001


Any other time, I might  have been discouraged because of not knowing how to do cove cuts. But it just so happened I was reading one of my wood magazines the very night before all this took place. In that magazine was a step-by-step instruction on how to do cove cuts on the table saw.

So that was the crowning moment of that serendipitous event. All things necessary came together in an instant, and my brain started to twinkle. That’s what I mean by having a rapturous moment in the creative zone. It shoots through in an instant!

You Might Also Like