Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Strange it is, the reasons why we do what we do. I suspect many of those actions we inherited from our parents, not through the DNA they passed on, but from the experiences we shared with them. For example, I can’t imagine my dad going to a health club for a work out when there was a pile of wood in the backyard waiting to be split. And I seem to be a limb from the same tree. It’s not that I like the lifting and exertion needed to split those logs, or the pain my back goes through to accomplish the undertaking, but there definitely is a degree of satisfaction associated with the task. Knowing where to put the wedge in place so as to avoid resistance from those belligerent knots, the pleasure that comes from a clean split with one swing of the maul, and the job completed, these all add to a sense of fulfillment.

And then there’s the reward of a crackling wood fire in the fireplace on a cold winter evening. Of course it means cleaning out the ashes and all the rest that goes with it, but for me it seems worthwhile. But there are other consequences too. For some reason, beyond my understanding, I lost one of the wedges I was using, and try as I might, I couldn’t find it. We did a diligent search through the leaf litter of the surrounding area without any success. Something that heavy doesn’t just get up and fly away. It’s a mystery. But, as a result, I just purchased a new one. I can’t be sure it was a wise financial investment, but it seemed like the thing to do. In a way it was an investment in the past, the smell of seasoned wood, and of tasks accomplished.

We recognize that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes toward the end of his life, after he had tried all the world had to offer. We also recognize a certain amount of cynicism in this wise old man, yet we also appreciate the wisdom contained in his words. “Don’t long for “the good old days,” for you don’t know whether they were any better than these!” (Ecclesiastes 7:10 (TLB) He’s undoubtedly right, but aren’t you glad you can remember those experiences and hold onto a worthwhile part of it?