pam ullman

reporting for duty

There is something inherently satisfying in the tools of the hand. The saw, the shovel, the scythe, the spade. Maybe it’s the simplicity of design, the fact that the purpose of a well-crafted tool is clearly imparted just by holding it in the hand.

Or maybe there’s some subconscious cultural memory that stirs when you pick a hand tool. Maybe the muscles in the hand and arm and shoulder spark a genetic recollection that your ancestors used tools just like these to build a home and plant a garden. Hold a hoe in your hand, and you automatically feel a desire to till the land. Set a hammer in your hand, and you want to pound a nail.

Maybe it’s just the straightforward utility of the tool. There’s no subtlety in an axe, there’s no nuance in a spade. Although it might be used with skill and finesse, a hand tool does what it does in a very direct way.

The tools we use are extensions of who we are. Most of us live complex lives and we require complex tools: computers, digital cameras, GPS systems. But the truth is we never have…and likely never will…design a tool as useful, as efficient, or as elegant as a hammer.

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