12 . 05 . 18
The Benefits of Making
Most of us work with our hands every single day. But because the majority of developed economies are now based on knowledge work or services, the sort of work that people are doing with their hands is all too frequently limited to tapping a keyboard or swiping across a screen. It’s work, but we don’t think that it’s as rewarding. That’s not to say that manual labour is the fix-all answer, as repetitive manual tasks are unchallenging, uninspiring and probably physically just as bad for a person as sitting in a chair all day, every day. The benefits come when the physical task is one that you enjoy, and have control over. There is beauty in the tangible.
“When I’m home, I cook dinner most nights. I have to do something with my hands, especially if I’ve been sitting around all day. Otherwise, I get funky. I like to chop vegetables. I spend a lot of time in my garden in Ventura. I’ve got raised beds and phenomenal compost, which I could talk about for hours.”
Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia, Inc.
It goes without saying that we believe in the benefits of making; it’s not only why we work with our hands everyday making products that we love, but more importantly why we share that making through our workshop courses. We’re joined on these courses by individuals of all ages and from a huge variety of personal and professional backgrounds. Those who use their hands for their daily work (particularly the carpenters and joiners who have made their own wooden surfboards with us) enjoy using familiar tools and processes in new ways, however the greatest impacts often seem to be reserved for workshoppers whose day-to-day work sees them spending most of their time in front of a screen. It’s not just the aches that come from spending long days in the workshop on their feet or using their hands, but the reconnection with their hands and the mental space they gain.
Have you ever seen an illustration or model of a sensory-motor homunculus? It’s a distorted representation of the human body with body parts sized according to their sensitivity. As you would expect, the eyes, ears, lips and tongue are disproportionately oversized, but so too are the hands; significantly so. Losing a connection with our hands is akin to any other sensory deprivation, however this is one that many people lose over time and often though choice, due to work and personal habits. It has an impact upon a person’s mental wellbeing, as well as their physical wellbeing.