He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
– St. Francis of Assisi
Whenever the power goes off, after the initial slight frustration (to which I’m sure you can relate!) I usually end up thinking about how much we’ve come to depend on electricity and automation in general. It’s such a blessing to be able to read and write and work with the help of a lamp and a lightbulb. For example: a few hundred years ago you risked blindness if you stayed up late to read or write by candlelight too often. Now, we can even read our favourite books right before bed.
Does having electricity, gas, and other examples of modern technology within the reach of our fingertips mean that we should forget the ‘old’, original way in which we used to do things? Of course not. Yet because of the speed of the modern age, many times we simply have to do things in the fastest, easiest way possible. As I said, technologhy is a blessing (can you imagine a working mother having to wash cloth diapers by hand every day? Me neither!) but it doesn’t mean we must always choose the automatic, fast, pre-packaged options. Whenever we have the gift of time in our hands, why not use it to do something by hand, the ‘old-fashioned’ way? Let’s call it ‘the DIY Life’.
Every once in a while, walk to the post office and send a handwritten postcard to that friend you haven’t seen in years. Is it a grandson’s or granddaughter’s birthday? If you enjoy it, how about baking a cake from scratch (not from a box!), instead of just buying it? If you have always wanted to learn how to do embroidery – even if you think you are not artistic or patient enough -, take a class. If it’s your wedding anniversary, how about going to the flower shop and choose, one by one, the flowers for the arrangement; write a small poem on the card, then deliver it yourself to your wife or husband or partner – rather than let the florist take care of it all? If your health and the weather allow it, walk your dog(s) yourself rather than having the dog-walker do it. Take photos with a traditional, old-fashioned camera – no filters, no digital enhancements. I could go on and on with suggestions…
Doing things ourselves, by hand, in the traditional way is an excellent practice of mindfulness. Even the things that seem tedious (peeling apples, going through a bag of beans to discard ‘bad’ ones, etc.) provide much needed solace from the fast pace of the world. Many of these activities can be shared with your loved ones; in which case, you can have the most insightful and fun conversations ever! When performed by yourself, these chores allow you to have an inner dialog with yourself that can enhance your understanding of who you are and give you a new perspective on life.
Who knows which revelations you might stumble upon when trying the D.I.Y. approach? It might be something that inspires you to transform one or all areas of your life! If you have tried it, or if you plan to do so, I would love to hear how it went for you. You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.