"To have the skill of knitting, to have the skill of crocheting, of felting, makes it possible for us not only to make something but it makes us skilled in general. The use of the hands is vital for the human being, for having flexibility, dexterity. In a way the entire human being is in the hands. Our destiny is written in the hand. And what do we do in our modern world with our hands? You know we move the mouse, we drive and so on. We feel plastic most of the time. The hands are relegated to very little that’s actually bringing dexterity to our times. So we have come ever more estranged from nature and from also what other human beings are doing. The whole social element comes into play as well because if I make something then I think ‘Hmmm, how was that yarn made?’" Renate Hiller, "On Handwork"
To watch the video click here.
Renate Hiller is a fiber artist and the work she does with her hands is primarily related to her art. Her words have special meaning for me because before I became a gardener I sewed, crocheted, embroidered, and made bread. I used my hands to create and connect (for much of what I made was for others). I still do those things, but not very often. The time I have to devote to handwork became severely limited when I went to work full-time in 1986, long before I took up gardening. I realized after listening to Renate Hiller that gardening fills a void in my life that had been there for years.
It's not the results of gardening that are the most meaningful to me (though of course I do love the results) ; it's the handwork - the digging, the weeding, the pinching back. And it's also experiencing the new - new knowledge, new experience, new joys, new hopes. It's both grounding and uplifting.
In his blog post about Renate Hiller, Trent Gillis also provides a link to a blog post by Christopher Calderhead who writes about how working in his community garden restores balance to his life. All of us who work in offices, at computers, restore some balance when we come home to pull some weeds, spread some mulch, or deadhead a few blooms.
When I retire I hope to spend much of my time using my hands. I hope to sew, embroider, and bake bread often. And I'm especially looking forward to the hours I'll be able to spend getting my hands dirty in the garden.
Meanwhile, I am thankful for the time I have to use my hands and for all of its rewards - including the little jolts of joy every time I see a butterfly. These two visited while I was working this morning.
". . . it restores balance to my life. To be able to touch the soil. To walk barefoot outdoors. To look at the weather not just as the planet’s plot to make me lose my umbrella but as a living system that will nourish — and threaten — the small plants we’ve put in the ground."
Christopher Calderhead, "Restoring Life's Balance Through Soil and Friends"
What restores balance to your life?