Your hands are like mine. Hands are not much different really, when it comes to blood vessels, sinew, muscle, skin and grip. They differ in size of course and they differ between the sexes. I’m thankful for opposites that compliment each other, i.e. small hands work well with large hands and vice versa. One compliments the other as do the left and the right hand though they are in essence, exact opposites. It’s a lovely thing to see two hands at work. Though two hands are always attached to two different arms, they don’t have to be attached to the same body and yet they can still work in harmony with one another. But the single human body is fundamentally unique when it comes to working.
My left hand never refuses my right. I pick up the hammer and the nail. The hammer strikes the nail askance, slips quickly from the nail head and hits my thumb harshly. My thumb is bruised and blood comes from the side of the thumbnail. The skin on my index finger is torn and blood bulbs up on the outside. I put both in my mouth. My thumb continues to throb but the pain subsides. My left hand picks up the nail again without question, between the bruised thumb and the index finger, and my right strikes once more and the nail beds its point into the wood’s fibres. I strike again before my left withdraws its support. My left hand never refuses my right.
So it is for the craftsman. His hands hurt much of the day because he cushions the wood from the tool to prevent bruising the wood, but he’s unconscious of the pain. Benumbed as he is, the work continues and the tools have their way with the wood subdued to the cuts coming by way of the cutting edge, the saw and the drill bit.
My hands are battle scarred now. I can see perhaps 50 if I count them. I cut or hit them in some way several times a day. Rarely will one day go by without I cut them, but they heal and I move on. I can average four or five splinters a day too. I don’t think about them. Large or small I pull them from under my skin.
Life is like wood; it comes with knots in it. If I had had no splinters, bruises or cuts, I would have done nothing with my hands and my life would be empty. Some people go through life never making anything from raw wood with their hands. That’s a sad thing. Better to have made something badly than to never have made anything at all. People are bruised by life. The work doesn’t bruise them, nor the tools they use. It saddens me, but people bruise people. For the main part they get up and walk on. My craft has meant much to me. It has brought healing and sanity to me when other things seemed so insane. I work at my bench every day. I listen to the wood as it splits beneath the axe blow or the chisel’s cut. I smell the musty walnut and the musky oak, spruce that some say has no smell, smells. I take my chisels from the till, sharpen them, cut with them and fit with them. They serve me in my work without complaint. They are of course inanimate aren’t they? They have no feelings, yet they respond to my energy, I work my will through them. The wood resists, I press more firmly but never harshly, the wood resists more for a short time, but then it yields to the sharpness of the cutting edge.