Phil and I are getting ready to teach the energy and technology module of our permaculture design course, and we're working through the relevant jumble of interests: appropriate technology, product life cycles, embodied energy and running costs, social and ecological impacts of technologies, and so forth.

We end the day with a show and share social, and one of the tools Phil pulls out is his scythe. Hopefully we'll have enough grass growth to demonstrate well!


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It was with some amusement that I pulled a book off my shelf, rather 'randomly' (aka 'synchronously'), one I hadn't read in years, by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. I'd like to quote most of the short entry my eyes fell on when I opened the book.

Have you ever cut grass with a scythe? Not many people do these days. About ten years ago, I brought a scythe home and tried to cut the grass around my cottage with it. It took more than a week before I found the best way to use it. The way you stand, the way you hold the scythe, the angle of the blade on the grass are all important. I found that if I coordinated the movement of my arms with the rhythm of my breathing, and worked unhurriedly while maintaining awareness of my activity, I was able to work for a longer period of time. When I didn't do this, I became tired in just ten minutes.

During the past few years I have avoided tiring myself and losing my breath. I must take care of my body, treat it with respect as a musician does his instrument. I apply nonviolence to my body, for it is not merely a tool to accomplish something. It is itself the end. I treat my scythe in the same way. As I use it while following my breathing, I feel that my scythe and I breathe together in a rhythm. It is true for many other tools as well.

I'd like to share one other snippet, this time from a Maori whakatauki. I can't find the original, so I'll share the English translation I was told (orally), then keep looking and come back to edit.

Put down your tools carefully, or you will lose a good friend.

I could comment on these things, but then, I bet you could too. So we'll just leave it at that. Enjoy the richness!



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