Monday Motion: The joy of leaving the keyboard to pitch hay bales
What it means to "rest with your hands"
"If you work with your hands, sabbath with your mind. If you work with your mind, sabbath with your hands." - Abraham Heschel
I paint now.
I'm also, slowly, attempting, desperately trying to learning the fiddle.
It's normal for me to try and bite off more than I can chew. It usually results in a lack of productivity... but still. The thing about this though is that I'm coming at it with no expectations.
I'm not at this to be the greatest painter or fiddler.
No, I simply want to eventually be able to capture little pieces of a folk culture. I'd like to capture rural landscapes on canvas, and I'd like to learn a style of music I love and hopefully pass that down to my children one day as a foundation for beautiful memories.
Of course, I've known people who are great painters since they've been at it since childhood.
I know performers like Bruce Molsky have been at the fiddle since adolescence.
I'm choosing to suspend any lofty goals and do it for love's sake.
And as a form of rest.
The quote above from Heschel brings to mind something I've learned more and more about in life.
In college, the expectation that I help around the farm with various duties lessoned.
That being said, occasionally I was called on to help with something like bailing square bales.
Anyone who has done this knows strain of the old heave-ho involved in lifting and stacking these bales on a moving wagon - and that's not to mention the coarse roughness on your hands and legs if you didn't cover them.
(Foolishly I often opted for the coolness of shorts which often ended in considerably scratched legs.)
Yeah, I didn't care a whole lot for baling hay like this growing up.
I got the opportunity - yes, opportunity - to do this again about a year ago.
I realized what this meant at the time. It was different from all those years before.
This was a reprieve from the office and the computer screen.
It was a liberation from the strain of these things on the mind.
It was in hoisting those bales in June of 2021 that helps me now find the meaning in Heschel's words.
Sure, until my family needs help again with square bales, things like painting or finding my way along the fiddle or planting a garden don't really add up to the same sort of thing.
But I believe it's important to get away from the things that we do because we must in order to do the things that give us a chance to breathe.
I suspect this appeals to a lot of creatives. Maybe not hauling hay in particular. But getting a chance to work with your body in a way that gives your possibly stressed and anxious mind a chance to dwell in the task at hand.
It's worth considering, and it's worth visiting your options in taking a break from your hard work creating new things.