Time On Our Hands

working hands

I shook a man’s hand the other day. His hand was hard and rough and his handshake was firm and full of confidence. There was no uncertainty in the shake. He was a working man in the sense of the word that his work was not something that he did to make money or bide time. This man lived his work and was proud of what he did, and this showed in his handshake and the firm, rough feel of the palm of his hands. He had time on his hands, literally.

Most of us complain that we do not have enough time on our hands; that our lives are filled up with necessary places to be and things to do, and that is probably the case. But I noticed that in my discussion with this man complaints had no place. We talked of grass-based farming, permaculture and animal husbandry. He had been up since about 3am making deliveries and there was not a hint of tiredness in his voice. He had a necessary place to be and necessary things to do; he had animals to feed, fences to mend, and grass to mow, but he also had time on his hands to talk.

We ate sausage in the parking lot while we talked. The sausage was exceptional but he was not satisfied with the texture of the meat. It was obvious that he took time with the things that he did, and that time led to a warranted pride in his work. It rained and we talked. Time was not of the essence. There was not a sign of being busy although I knew he was.

I like to meet people with time on their hands. Time has a way of rubbing off, of reminding me what is important and what is not. “You don’t mind a little dirt on the knife?” he asked as a sliced another piece of sausage.

“I don’t mind a bit!” I answered.

I don’t mind dirt on knives and I don’t mind having time on my own hands. In fact, I am working hard to put more on them. It is hard work to have time on your hands, but I do believe that doing so is one of the most virtuous things a person can do. I would suggest that we all need to work in order to have more time on our hands. In fact, a bit more time on everyone’s hands would be a great thing for us all!

I shook the man’s hand when we said goodbye. His hand was hard and rough and his handshake was firm and full of confidence. We did not bide our time but talked about meeting again at his farm. This man reminded me to live my work and do it in such a way that I can be proud of what I do. I think that I can remember to have a firm handshake full of confidence as long as I do these things. Put some time on your hands today; you’ll be glad you did.



  1. Blisters, scrapes, scratches, cuts; they happen one at a time, all at once, unexpectedly, and sometimes they appear without any knowledge of how or why. They hurt, they heal, and they leave their small mark. Over time, all those small marks begin to define the hands that they inhabit. Any small act, no matter how small, if done consistently over a longer span of time, can have a large impact on it’s subject. This lesson can be applied to any and all problems. I enjoyed your observation, and your willingness to admit a longing for the humble aspects of life.

    1. Hi Anonymous;
      I know it has been a bit of time since you have left this comment on my humble blog, but somehow I have missed it. I appreciate your insight and ability to portray something that so many people seem to look down at. I now appreciate the phrase “Any small act, no matter how small, if done consistently over a longer span of time, can have a large impact on it’s subject.” Since this blog I have bought a farm and now live the life of a farmer/carpenter and am learning (on my own hands) the impact that such a life can have. I appreciate your insightful comment!

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