| I decided recently to learn a new craft. It was a decision I came to, not because I was all that interested in learning how to do it, but because I wanted to make something for my sister-in-law that I knew she would really like. I can sew, knit, crochet, do woodworking, paint, draw, and do a bunch of other small stuff, but there is nothing wrong with learning something new, so I decided to make a latch hook rug.
With all due respect to those who make them and love doing so, I have to say that for me, latch hooking a rug numbers among the most tedious things I have ever done in my life. It isn't hard to do, any reasonably intelligent creature with opposable thumbs could do it without too much trouble, it is just repetitive and boring in the extreme. Less than halfway through it I began to worry that my brains were going to start leaking out of my eyeballs in protest. The rug I am making follows a pattern that is laid out on a grid so it is very easy to follow. In theory, it shouldn't be any more boring than knitting the same thing over and over again, but for some reason it was for me. I can find knitting patterns to knit that are challenging, even with experience, but latch hooking was challenging for about the ten seconds it took to learn it and then became akin to counting beans in a large pot, tiresome in the extreme. In fairness, the person who dreamed up the pattern was probably not bored. It was very cleverly done, and I imagine if I designed a pattern myself it would be challenging and interesting, but afterwards I would have no desire whatsoever to make the thing.
Sitting on my couch tying one slip knot after another, I got to thinking about all the tedious things we have to do in our lives for the simple reason that they have to be done. If you think about it, these tasks occupy the majority of our lives. Work is frequently tedious, as is homework, housework, paperwork, and all those other things that end is 'work'. Weeding a garden is boring. Simple machine maintenance, like changing the oil in your car is a drag. All these mind-numbing tasks are, however, the things that we all must do and if we do not, it is pretty clear that we are either fabulously wealthy and can hire someone else to do them, or just plain lazy.
Laziness is a curse, and as our technology becomes more and more sophisticated or collective laziness seems to increase exponentially. I can't help wondering if our tireless quest for more leisure time, although great in theory, isn't somehow bad for us in the long term. Don't get me wrong, I think that it is ridiculous to be one of those A Type personalities that is driven to success, acquisition, and ultimately, a heart attack, but it seems to me to be equally ridiculous to be one of those people who thinks that getting out of a chair to change a television channel is way too much like work. Either way you look at it you're headed for cardiac arrest, either because you think you need to go about everything like you're killing snakes or because you think you can kill a snake from a sitting position with a remote control.
No doubt about it, human beings are complex creatures and tend to choosing the easy path, but there is something undeniably admirable about people who are willing to work hard at the small, tedious tasks that make up our lives. There must be something in our nature that needs to work in this way because people who don't really have to are forever attempting to find something to fill that gap. There are extremes, of course, like climbing Mount Everest or partying to you drop, but for the average person that need seems to manifest itself in seeking out relentless, if more mundane, entertainment. The problem is, entertainment can be dangerous. The Roman Emperors knew that entertaining the mob was a sure fire way to controlling them and the manipulative message of choice. Long before television, movies, Ipods, and video games, the people in power understood that controlling the message was controlling the entertainment and ultimately, what people thought. If you had to make things a little violent and bloodthirsty to pull that off...oh well.
I cannot lie. I was more than ready to quit halfway through latch hooking the rug and opt for buying my sister-in-law something for her birthday, but that's not how I roll, so I am now 2 tedious rows away from finishing the stupid thing. It looks good and I know that she will like it, which is satisfaction enough, I suppose. That, and the knowledge that I kept to it in the face of extraordinary boredom. I feel good about it, but I won't be doing another one any time soon. Or ever. Next year I'll just knit her a sweater.