tools of the trade


They say you only get one thing to be truly great at in this life… I’m not sure if it’s true, but I’m kinda hoping it’s not. I’ve seen people who’ve mastered their art or trade with such precision it is art regardless of the tool. I have a friend Perry, whose dad was a block mason. Granted, I’m a simple man, but watching Bob work made that ole’ trowel look like magic. Bob could make mortar defy gravity. To be honest, I’m more impressed with that type of tool than I am, say a golf club or ball, but it’s all kinda the same thing.

The tools we use often change with age… and usually get lighter, especially for men. Maybe that’s the equivalent of the body turning in its notice of resignation to the brain. So the brain looks for new jobs or tasks for the whining employee; the body. Something lighter that it can handle.

I’ve shared a few stories of tools I’ve used in  my life. I recall with gratification the times I held a Skilsaw in my hand or hands, harnessing the awesome power that has done so much, but left much carnage along the way. I glance at the end of my middle finger on my left hand, slightly deformed by the snarled blade that tore through the end of it. The doctor folded what was left together and sewed it up. I was one of the lucky ones.

I’ve used exotic tools in my life, but probably one of the simplest of tools is my all time favorite. That particular tool has been part of my life from early on. My elbow sings a song of protest when I hold our old favorite, but I enjoy the feeling just the same.

It feels comfortable in my hand… Like a part of  me, a lifelong friend; my hammer…I can still spin it in my hand like a gunfighter does his pistol. That tool too can do damage, but I can’t fault the tool itself… it’s operator error. How many hammers have smashed hands and especially fingers? I’ve lost more than a few fingernails at the hands – make that, the head of a hammer.

My first hammer helped earn me $25 a roof for every one I nailed off while I was in high school… That tool became part of who I am, through good times and bad. It’s a pretty safe bet to say the pen in my hand will never reach the level of skill I did with a hammer… but I’m still in the same business; the business of building.

I’d say we all are… We are either tearing down or building up…

What are you using the tools of the trade for?