Writing with a Stick

My first calligraphy teacher taught us the basics. He wanted us to be able to write letters with any tool, including a stick if necessary. Earlier this month I attended a calligraphy conference and the woman who sat next to me in one of my classes was from Australia. She let me borrow her homemade pen which she carved from balsa wood. Inside I laughed because I had traveled internationally to basically write with a stick. Who knew that decades later my teacher’s efforts would be so on point?

When people know what they are doing, and how to do it well they can create incredible things no matter the tool. I have seen amazing works of art created from crude and rudimentary items that were pretending to be tools. Sticks, acorns, weeds and even trash can become anything in a motivated and properly trained hand. I point this out because so often we complain about our tools. Older versions of things, slow wifi, late model this or that, or we even become obsessed with finding the right tool for the job instead of just doing the job with what we have.

Taking me to an art supply store is like taking an alcoholic to a bar. I find it hard to resist buying any sort of pen or ink. Tools are toys and I enjoy playing with and learning all sorts of tools. After a while though we forget how many tools we have and we basically use the same ones over and over and over again. So the tool doesn’t really matter it is the person using the tool that changes everything. Give people the right skills and teach them the basic rules of anything and they will astound you with what they are able to invent.

Be it an electronic device or a stick dipped into ink. Anything is possible when used by a skilled person. So instead of focusing on the tools we need to focus on learning the basics. I know that concept is not sexy or a marketing extravaganza, yet it is the truth behind all great people who do great things. They learn their trade, craft, area of expertise and they excel by simply learning the basics then breaking all the rules. What rules are you willing to break today? No matter the tool or the challenge step up and do it even if it means writing with a stick.

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