Some watch The Joy of Painting because they like Bob Ross’s calm voice and positive affirmations. Those are good, but I watch it because I enjoy expertise.

Watching Bob Ross paint, you know he knows what he’s doing. And there’s the added suspense of what the picture will be. I’m not a painter, so I don’t see what he sees in his head, not until he’s finished.

It’s the same reason, I suspect, many of my elementary age students watch people play video games on YouTube. The people on YouTube are better than they are. Yet, as we follow along, step by step, we feel vicarious achievement.

I went searching for something new this weekend. It’s not yet time to rewatch Victorian Christmas. I found entire seasons of The New Yankee Workshop. Just as I’m not a painter or a gamer, I’m not a woodworker.

But I could watch Norm Abram make furniture in his workshop all day. It certainly helps that he loves the Shakers like I do.

It’s the skill I enjoy, almost more than the finished pieces. Even watching the saw blades power through chunks of wood (“Safety guards have been removed for photographic purpose only.”), I never feel anxious. I trust him. He knows what he’s doing.