“Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.”
I heard Maria Popova (of Brain Pickings) quote that line in a podcast, and then I stumbled upon it online. Hum. I took the time to read it and look out the window. A motorboat hummed in the distance. Hum. I read it again: Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that creating something worthwhile – a piece of art, a good meal, a business plan – involves pushing something forward, then building upon that initial step. It’s like making a castle out of LEGOs. You join two bricks together, then you add another on top, and another, and then another.
It takes time.
Can we truly get a real sense of a book by skimming a summary – with key parts in bold, for crying out loud – or reading 140 characters about it on Twitter?
I’ve recently started making a quilt (to find a venue for my desire for craftiness). Quilting is quite the process, let me tell you. Because I’m apparently into challenges, I’m using a paper piecing technique, which requires even more thought and planning. BUT it’s quite addictive. I’m not posting any pictures yet because I’ve been spending most of my time adjusting knobs that my 2-year-old keeps changing, and getting to know all about fabric and controlling the speed of the pedal (which is quite different from easing your foot on a piano pedal).
So far, I like the lack of immediacy. I like that such projects force us to take the long view. I like that it forces me to slow down, and surrender to interruptions. I like that it can be picked up and put down, worked on in spurts.
I remember reading somewhere that Thoreau advocated short burst of work. I dug around and found these words of his, which ring true: “The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure.” That sounds pretty ideal – and pretty accurate with children in the house. (The not crowding the day with work part, I mean, not so much the ease and leisure part!)
The farmers I’ve seen here seem to work like that, too. They labour without urgency, without resentment for the task at hand. They enter the field with a bag of seeds over one shoulder, and tools over the other. They dig the earth under the hot sun. If you approach them they’ll likely stop to talk, and will do so without complaining about the monotony of the work, without thought for whether or not the harvest will sell.
There is poetry to be found in this rhythm, and in these projects that unfold slowly, over time, like seeds gently dropped across the field.