something innate in us craves repetitious tasks... those who preceded us long ago built homes, quilts, sculptures, and tools by hand. was it as arduous as we think it is now?
and today we see those struck with suburban malaise flock to artistic mediums and artisan trades that require hours of practicing the same movement.
repetition is maintenance.
maintenance is care.
and care is survival.
"The problem with ‘fast action’ is that it presumes a sure way of doing things and a uniformity that, in a pinch, we can accelerate. Just as fast food works for some meals and not for others, we must remain open to things that take time, both for preserving what is of value from the past and taking the time to forge new approaches in the present. The key here is multiplicity, plurality and diversity, which take time."
When you are young and healthy, you believe you will live forever. People tell you “the world is your oyster,” “the sky is the limit,” and so on. And you are willing to delay gratification—to invest years, for example, in gaining skills and resources for a brighter future. You seek to plug into bigger streams of knowledge and information. You widen your networks of friends and connections, instead of hanging out with your mother. When horizons are measured in decades, which might as well be infinity to human beings, you most desire all that stuff at the top of Maslow’s pyramid—achievement, creativity, and other attributes of “self-actualization.” But as your horizons contract—when you see the future ahead of you as finite and uncertain—your focus shifts to the here and now, to everyday pleasures and the people closest to you.
| Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
“I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”
— Joan Didion, Commencement Address at UC Riverside (1975)
I wanted to spend a long time making something beautiful. […] The pattern of the fabric came from a book of embroidery designs. They were line drawings. I traced them, adjusted the scale, and painted them in color with fabric paint on a length of linen that I dyed with diluted coffee on my stove at home.
∆ Robert Gober
That is the example that snails offer us: saints who make masterpieces of their lives, works of art of their own perfection. They secrete form. Nothing outside themselves, their necessity, or their needs is their work. Nothing is out of proportion with their physical being. Nothing that is unnecessary or obligatory.
And so they delineate the duties of humanity: great thoughts come from the heart. Live a better life and make better verses. Morality and rhetoric combine in the ambition and desire of the wise.
How are they saints? Precisely by obedience to their nature. So: know yourself. And accept yourself for what you are. In agreement with your vices. In proportion with your measure.
What is most appropriate to the human being? Words. Decency. Our humanism.