Recently I was given a present of Seamus Heaney’s 100 poems, a collection of his and his family’s favourite poems. (Thank you, Jean.)
The very first poem in the collection is entitled “Digging”. Here is a verse:
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
As soon as I read this poem, I was back in the presence of my father. He was a man who earned his living and provided for his family by physical labour.
Be a Teacher:
In “Digging”, Seamus Heaney talks about how his father taught him to use a spade. I also use a spade and shovel with the same skill due to my father’s teaching.
He taught me how to use a shovel properly so as not to damage my back. When sawing to use the entire length of the blade, therefore extending the life of the saw between sharpenings. (Which he could do himself; I cannot).
I still use the saws I took from my family home after my mother died and long after my father had passed. He died at the age of 58.
It was only recently, when borrowing a new saw in Chadwicks to cut some timber so that it would fit into my car, that I realized how dull [blunt] my father’s old saw had become.
Can you get a saw sharpened anymore?? Suggestions please for Dublin area.
New is not always best:
The advice now about everything is, scrap it, throw it away and buy a new one.
My father’s old tools mean a lot to me. I do not want to replace them; I want to repair and reuse them.
In Seamus’s poem, he realized that his tool is the pen between his fingers and not a spade.
This poem reminds me that I also use different tools from my father, and I ask myself, am I as good with my tools and passing on my skills to others?
“We are here on earth to help others; what the others are here for I have no idea”
W H Auden
Lip Service to Values:
The businesses that will not last are the organizations and leaders who implement the policy of working people hard until their enthusiasm and energy have plummeted beyond repair.
They then throw away the person [tool] and look for a replacement which may look shinier, but like most new tools I now buy, it will not last the pace, as my father saw. It may be a little dull, but with sharpening and a rub of oil will continue to do an excellent job without the high cost of replacement.
Live Your Values:
Nowadays, companies’ best tools are their people. Therefore, successful companies continually explore how to educate and train [resharpen] their people, leading to better engagement and less wear and tear on tired bodies and minds.
I hope you enjoyed the above article. As I will be away on holiday, my next one will be published in August. Thank you for reading!