Bring it about that the people will return to the use of the knotted rope,
Will find relish in their food
And beauty in their clothes,
Will be content in their abode
And happy in the way they live.
I saw this mysterious bit of I-don't-know-what (poetry? advice? aphorism?) on a scrap of paper tacked to a post in a friend's house in the woods. He didn't know the source of it. It struck me and I wrote it down. A couple of years later I finally Googled it, and it turns out that it comes from chapter 80 in D.C. Lau's translation of the Tao Te Ching.
I think it is about the attainment of simplicity, the richness of a life when even the most mundane of things are valued, cherished and made beautiful. I like the first line, it is so jarring (what the heck do we do with a knotted rope?!?) but I think it speaks to how we go about achieving that simplicity and richness, by learning old intricate skills that actually serve a purpose of some kind in a simple life. There is deep happiness, contentment, in that.
In the past couple of years I have had need of knotted rope, and I know that there are many kinds of knots, each one serving a particular purpose. Knowing your knots can be a handy thing indeed.
I am laying low for a bit. I took delivery of two cord of firewood the day before a major snow storm here. I spent as much time as I could chucking and stacking that wood in a shed before the storm started, and then a major amount of time shovelling snow afterwards. Between those two things my back is complaining bitterly.