Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More synopsis, day 3... So, why wisdom and what's the big deal about the hands? All my life, I have heard the word wisdom associated with age and experience, but the buzzword that has had everyone's attention for at least 3 generations is intelligence. It is something we can measure through batteries of psychometric tests.

So what about wisdom and why does it matter? If you use the word, wisdom, you get a funny look. It is a word from the past that people no longer think of or can relate to. It throws them for a loop. The computer has become the dominant tool of the age, displacing the hand in the expression of intelligence. If you use the computer as an analogy, you can think of intelligence as processing power. It is the speed and capacity of the processor and its connections through the motherboard... the ability to process data. Wisdom is more like programming... a collection of experiences and relationships that allow the intelligence of the machine to direct its output creatively and with greater purpose. If you think of intelligence as an expression of speed, you can think of wisdom as an expression of careful reflection, of quiet and of calm... of action based on deep understanding. In the view of our fast-paced society, "who needs it?"

Much of our current disassociation from our hands evolved from the concept that labor was something to be saved from. It's odious. It stinks, it sucks. It's dirty, it messes the nails. In the great scheme of things promised by our science fiction, our machines, our great labor saving devices, would take the place of our servants. The dishwasher would perform the odious task of cleaning up after dinner. The restaurant would save us from the tedious task of cooking in the first place. We've become people of measurable intelligence with important things to process at great speed. Who would want to slow down, savor the hand's moment in the making of things, its immersion in warm water as the dishes are done? There are movies to watch, other forms of passive entertainment and distraction to attend to.

Is it any great surprise that the hurry of things makes stress, and that stress leads to distress? Is it any great surprise that as we have become more passive and powerless in our own lives, depression and anxiety have become the primary forms of mental illness?

Can all of this be explained in a book? Would it be best that I offer a few hints and challenges so that people discover from their own relationship to their hands, new meaning and purpose in their lives? The best lessons of life are the ones we learn from our own experience. In fact, the only things we really learn at the core of our beings are the things we learn "first hand."

Have a great day, and feel free to comment or share, either in the comment section or by email... The photo above is of carving on a cherry entertainment center. The carving pattern is one reflecting a study of plant sciences, and the piece was commissioned by a senior scientist at the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, OK.


  1. Anonymous5:29 PM

    Your book sounds like a great project Doug. I am a regular reader of your blog, but first time commenter (it is a shame you don't get more comments).

    I can relate to a lot of what you write about - not from the point of view that I am good with my hands, but because I am not. I work in a professional field, but my father is very handy; and I grew up in a house with a lot of homemade and customised furniture. As a kid, if my siblings or I needed a box, or some storage shelves, or anything 'nifty', dad was always able to knock something together. This 'handiness' also lent itself to general home repairs, plumbing, electrical work, motor mechanics....the list was really endless.

    Alas, I feel that this is something I will not be able to pass on to my kids. When something breaks in my household, I worry that I will not be able to simply 'take it down the shed and fix it up'. The house will be filled with purchased furniture, lacking the 'just right' feel to it.

    One day I will be able to indulge in woodworking and mechanical activities on a proper basis. Until then, I read your blog with envy.


  2. Thanks for your comment. I regret that there are readers (like this one) that I may never have the chance to meet. It is encouraging for me to know that what I say in the blog resonates with some, allows greater self-knowledge to emerge, and that the alternate view I present is one that even someone without trained hands might understand. Good luck. Take a chance real soon. Cut some wood or whittle a stick. If you pay just a little attention to your hands and their education, you will have no cause for envy.