Become A LifeCraft Member!

“The hand is the tool of tools.”
Aristotle

This post is different. Last autumn I decided I want to retrain my hand. To write.

I had three reasons. First, my wife has always had beautiful handwriting, and it is simply so aesthetically pleasing. Second, I have read that ‘they’ are not teaching children cursive anymore. Somehow, I have to admit, it seemed that this is probably another one of those cases where the old-timers knew what they were doing, and now ‘they’ are going to lose it. So I’m being something of a contrarian.

Finally, years ago my wife spent some time in Japan, and she has told me a little about their traditional arts. For the Japanese, to form the habit of careful, ordered motions is a way of training the soul. Indeed, they say that you practice these arts–and one of them is calligraphy–not so much to perfect them, but rather because they perfect you. Such a practice also has roots in the West, even if these roots have been largely lost to sight.

So my wife got me a block of lined paper and some good pens for Christmas. I have been trying to spend ten minutes a day practicing, beginning with very simple hooks and other shapes, working up to letters. Now one month later I am already finding a certain peace and pleasure writing a few words in cursive, taking the time to form each letter in flowing, even while very imperfect strokes.

Just what this does for me, I cannot adequately articulate. I do know that the power of reason, like the hand, must learn to use tools, and to use them well for good ends, through much care and practice.

I am actually ‘writing’ this post–indeed my first ever–completely by hand in cursive. It certainly has taken longer than typing. And I must still type it. But right now I am very grateful to have a hand, and to be able actually to write out the thoughts in my mind.

Post-scipt: I have to admit that in typing this I revised the wording of a good number of the sentences I had penned. I wonder what it would take to re-establish the habit of composing by hand with some confidence and precision, without often going back, deleting and re-doing.

Image: the art of Japanese calligraphy is called shodo.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Knowing Where Our Food Comes From

Knowing Where Our Food Comes From

“A significant part of the pleasure of eating is one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world form which food comes.” Wendell Berry, “The Pleasures of Eating” in What are People For? There are very good reasons to consider where our food comes from. Let us...

read more
When Medicine Becomes a Business

When Medicine Becomes a Business

“And it belongs to...the medical art to produce health, not to make money. Nevertheless, some men turn every art into a means of money-making, as if this is the end.” Aristotle, Politics The state of medical practice in our country and in the world has been brought...

read more
Announcing: Man of the Household Course NOW FREE

Announcing: Man of the Household Course NOW FREE

I have decided to make a big change at LifeCraft in order to bring my household courses to a broader audience. Troubled times call for a sober and serious response. Social and political dysfunction remind us that our households need to be a bastion of authentic human...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest