I open Sue Bender's book tonight, Plain and Simple, A Woman's Journey to the Amish."
The book opens to these words.
"What counts, Sue, is not the results," said Tino, my dear friend from Sardinia, a sculptor, a poet, a wise man. "Final products are never satisfactory because the potentialities of a person are never realized."
"Then what is satisfying?"
"It is the enjoyment of every step in the process of doing; everything, not only the isolated piece we label art. If accomplishing is the only goal, all that it takes to reach that goal is too slow, too fatiguing - an obstacle to what you want to achieve. If you want to rush to the accomplishment, it is an inevitable disappointment. Then you rush to something else. The disappointment is reaped over and over again. But if every step is pleasant, then the accomplishment becomes even more, because it is nourished by what is going on."
"All the stages of one's work have a poetic nature," he continued. "No one gets paid for keeping his own tools cleaned. It is an act of real art; otherwise you don't have a rapport with the tool; then it becomes a rebellious servant, not respected, not properly handled. It you don't appreciate its weight and be aware of the balance, one day or another it is going to hit your finger!"
One day I confided to Ruth, Tino's wife, that I felt her house was a living thing. I imagined the objects smiling, talking to each other, inviting me to join them in a conversation. "Does that sound strange?" I asked. She recalled returning to her home after being away for four months. "I waxed and shined desks and chairs," she said, "and these dead objects returned to life. Their wood almost sprouted new leaves and blossoms. I no longer felt desolate in the house."
Tino's loving relationship with his tools, and Ruth's care and tending of the objects in her home speak of their attitude to all things. I had to go away, to a foreign land in America, before I could see that the qualities I was looking for were here, practically in my own backyard.
Look well tomorrow; work well; all is here and at hand.