the relationship between our tools and our values...

Posted by Fia Skye on

“Instinct is not a destination, but a path…” ~ Tamar Adler

I knew a woman who divided her life between a sailboat and an rv.

When she and her husband ran out of money on their sailboat, they would choose the next spot on the map to move, return to the RV, and work long enough to save for the next adventure on the sailboat.

She is an amazing cook, mainly of coastal and world cuisine. I only ever saw her use one chopping board, 2 knives, and 3 pans. For everything. To observe her in the kitchen was a lesson in efficiency.

“Consider not filling your kitchen with tools, but becoming, rather, the kind of cook who doesn’t need them.”  ~ Tamar Adler

I think this might be said of every craft in which there are gadgets created to aid in accuracy and to save us time that might be spent in another way.

But there is a cost. What these supplementary gadgets offer us, is in trade for knowledge and skill building. They distance us from the thing we’re doing. When we take shortcuts, we miss what we might learn. 

One way is not better than another. They are different. Each asks something different from us, revealing our own preferences and abilities, our nature and true desire. 

Understanding the difference between what is necessary and what is convenient is part of the intelligence required for whatever it is you’re doing. It's how we can determine a healthy balance between all the moving parts of our daily living. 

I’ve developed a penchant for making solid hardwood boards. Wooed by their natural beauty and unexpected usefulness in various rooms around the house, I keep prepping them. 

Each has its own gravitas and character. Though I begin with a palm sander to release the first and roughest layer of bark, after this, I’ve developed a process that ends with a metal scraper – which doesn’t scratch the grain as sandpaper can. It brings it out cleanly and clearly, with an incredibly smooth finish.

It requires something even more than time. When I work with the scraper and the hardwood, they teach me something about technique, the species of wood, and my character. During this part of the process, I bump into all sorts of thoughts and physical fatigue - and in order to finish, I must adapt and figure out how to work differently. 

My reward is the beauty of the grain and the smoothness of the wood. To see it from the pile of reclaimed lumber to this... There is a wabi sabi quality that would not be there, had I chosen a different process that might have been quicker and easier. 

It's oddly comforting to find uses for these beautiful pieces around the house... they are only and utterly what they are. Entirely authentic.

This is a path worth walking... 

always in motion,


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