Idealists give invaluable service,
they give the distant view,
which makes progress,
as it makes a walk, exhilarating.
Samuel Augustus Barnett
Last week I sat with my Mom watching her play with a novelty toy that was basically a series of metal pins in a box. With practise you could make any form of art you wished. By just laying it on anything, in this case her hand, and then carefully tipping it back it would leave its imprint. It is called a Pin Toy or Pin Art.
I watched her play with it for about 15 minutes trying to get the shape of her hand perfect. I pointed out that it looked beautiful but she continued to keep trying to attain her self-imposed ideal of perfection. Mom’s hands are beautiful but after years of hard work they now lack strength, and appear gnarly and frail. Her determination to get this image to look perfect, with her now less than perfect hands had me mesmerized. Finally satisfied with the result, she set it down. Four fingers, a thumb and a wonky shaped palm of hand. She had a big smile on her face. I congratulated her on her success. She slid it to the side of the table where it still sits, a true testament to her strength and determination.
This type of determination is nothing new for me to have witnessed. I come from a long line of hard working, determined and striving for perfection, even if unattainable, dreamers. Generations and generations of people who have always done what was expected of them, leaving not too many ‘idle hands’ in the bunch.
As a child I was taught the value of hard work and pushed myself to do the best I could at every job I was given or had taken on, striving to reach a goal or a dream. ‘Idle hands’ were not allowed and I was OK with that. My being the eldest of a large family gifted me self-imposed responsibilities that have lasted a lifetime, possibly trying to prove myself and “set a lead” as my father used to sometimes call it. My father being the eldest in his family had warned me about that, he called it a curse. Eventually, in his later years he grew weary and lost that drive to conquer that self- imposed perfection and in his thinking unattainable ideal of success.
I now find that I grow weary of my own responsibilities, finding myself craving those ‘idle hands’ that I had always believed to be so very harmful and non-productive. My own hands, now fighting me every step of the way are beginning to look very much like my mother’s. Now, they also appear gnarled, frail and do indeed lack the strength needed to easily continue on my own self-imposed ideal path.
Farming has always kept me busy and away from all of those ‘idle hands’ pitfalls that I have been taught to avoid at all costs through my life. There was never any time for ‘idle hands’. This farming thing has always had me pushing myself to fulfill those ideal dreams and secretly hoping that someday, something would come from all that hard work. As I grow older I find myself hoping that my time of rest was lying just ahead. Farming is a rewarding life, no doubt about that; but one that unless you live, or have lived it, you may never understand the true realities of the emotional and physical strength that it requires, demands.
There does not appear to be any ‘idle hands’ in my near future, at least as far ahead as I am able to see. This is very apparent, particularly at this time of year. I, like my Mom, will probably be striving to achieve my idea of perfection, making use of those strengths and abilities that I continue to hold tight.
‘Idle hands’, at this point in my life, honestly does not sound as bad as I have always been led to believe.
Could there be an ‘Idle hands’ time limit that I did not know about? Have I reached the end of that contract?