Saturday, August 14, 2010

Restoring balance

"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."  
What restores balance to your life?


Bernie said...

Terrific post ... it really does hit the mark! I think we all feel to a certain degree that gardening does indeed restore that connection with Mother Nature that has become lost in a 'plastic' feeling world ... but also that notion that using our hands in a productive way can actually make us feel more connected to each other!
Wonderful reading ... I read this a couple of times as I enjoyed it so much!

deb said...

Your post makes me think of the book "Last Child in the Woods". It's a thought provoking book about children and the therapeutic value of being in nature.

Anonymous said...

hi Ginny, yes I totally agree with your post...i'm not sure where i would have ended up if i had not discovered has been a great help over the years and kept me sane...thank you for your thoughts...

Gary said...

Hi Ginny,
Wonderful post. How true those words are. I find most peace when in my own garden quietly working, but the best thing of all is the feel of a plant in my hands.
I don't know if you have heard it before, but there is an old verse by a lady called Dorothy Gurney that goes:

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
the song of the birds for mirth;
One is nearer Gods heart in a garden,
than anywhere else on earth.

leavesnbloom said...

Dear Ginny

This is such a heartfelt post - some even say that gardening is good therapy. I know of one garden attached to a hospital here where those with mental illnesses are encouraged to work with their hands in the gardens as part of their recovery.

Daricia said...

nothing restores balance like going outside to pull a few weeds. i've read this post several times, ginny. it's so thoughtful and the quote at the end is especially nice. it's made me think about why i garden, too, and restoring balance is the main reason. i like the parallel with mothering that exists with caring for a garden, too. it's a new outlet for nurturing - especially nice when your children are mostly all grown up like mine!