“Questions pressed and whirled in my mind. I had no idea how to put my curiosity into words, still regret even now not having asked anything at all. I’ve revisited that scene so many times since. If I had spoken up then, I wouldn’t have had to spend so much of my life in search of the answers.”

A young student chances upon a piano tuner working in his school hall and is immediately swept away into a moment of divine inspiration. Despite having no history with the piano or any idea how to play one, Tomura leaves his remote village in Hokkaido upon graduation to go to tuning school and then work in a small piano tuning office in town.

Image result for the forest of wool and steel natsu miyashitaHe soon finds out that the art of piano tuning is a very complicated process. What results is an emotional journey as the young tuner tries to graduate from apprentice to master with little success. The older tuners at his workshop offer helpful advice and encouraging words in the form of abstract metaphors and life experience as Tomura tries to find his way.

But this is essentially a story about following your passion and dedicating yourself to a craft. Through the medium of piano tuning, the author deals with all the pitfalls of any such endeavour. There are setbacks, failures, disappointing reality checks and valuable learning curves. There is a debate on the existence of innate talent versus the value of hard work and persistence. There are endless interpretations of what produces the best sound. Is it the pianist, the piano, the tuner or the venue?

I was halfway through this book before I fully began to relate the story to my own journey from apprentice to master. I would love to reread this book one day and take it all in again. The Forest Of Wool And Steel is beautifully written and layered story about ‘the search for purpose in life.’

“I worked outside the regular flow of time and space, my senses on full alert, my concentration unwavering.”

Image result for the forest of wool and steel natsu miyashita

Notes:

  • Someone on Twitter recently asked “if you could only read books from one country what would it be?” Hands down at this stage, I would say Japan.
  • My lightbulb moment came during my teenage years late one night when the film Prefontaine came on television. It was an inspirational lightning bolt that stays with me even today.