collapse

Author Topic: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool  (Read 4354 times)

Darkhawk

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 4783
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 653
    • View Profile
    • Suns in her Branches
  • Religion: An American Werewolf in the Akhet; Kemetic; Feri; Imaginary Baltic Heathen; Discordian; CoX; Etc.
  • Preferred Pronouns: any of he, she, they
The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« on: July 13, 2012, 10:00:32 pm »
Early in my training with my teacher, I was given an assignment: adopt a couple of certain forms of psychic cleansing and protection, drawn from folk magic sources primarily.  This was something that I wrestled with constantly; I found something that somewhat appealed to me, and I tried to make it work, and indeed, it worked, kind of, sort of.

Some time later, I came back to this assignment with something like dread, as I feared being unable to find somethign that really worked, like all the tools - perfectly sufficient to the task - were an outfit that just didn't fit right, or which, while fitting, were just not attractive to wear.  And I found an idea, chased a thought sideways, put a little twist on it, and found something perfect.  And when I shared what I'd done with my teacher, she said that it was pretty awesome.

This is something that happens to me a lot - I have something that's good enough (usually something that works a good deal better than that particular assignment!), and I'm content with it, and don't think I need to go any further with it.  I have an adequate tool, a perfectly good methodology and technique, or whatever.

And usually, I do - I mean, I have my ritual cup sitting on my nightstand right now.  It's nothing hugely special, it holds water just fine in a good quantity for my needs, it has a pleasant shape and meets my quirks for wanting such a thing.  But I don't have any illusion that it's anything beyond good enough for my purposes.  It's possible there exists a cup out there that is mindblowingly amazing for me.  (I suspect in the real world I'll make one when my studio works.)  This ain't it.  But it does what I need it to.

I'm not a very heavy tool user, at least not in my head.  But I look around, and I see the collection of scarves I use for one set of protection magic, the perfume bottle I use for another bit of protection magic, I see my aforementioned cup, I note that the tools I put away so that the Celt's mother wouldn't see them haven't been put back where they belong...  So I think my head is wrong on this.  And some of my tools are good enough.  And some of them are The Right Tool.

Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about here?  How many of your tools are good enough, and how many of them are Right?  How do you know when a tool is The Right Tool?  How does it affect your magic to work with something that precisely attuned?  Can you make a good enough tool into a Right Tool?  How?
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Wickerman

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Apr 2012
  • Posts: 153
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2012, 01:44:34 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;64093

Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about here?  How many of your tools are good enough, and how many of them are Right?  How do you know when a tool is The Right Tool?  How does it affect your magic to work with something that precisely attuned?  Can you make a good enough tool into a Right Tool?  How?

 
I'm a mechanic, there are tools, and then there are professional tools. Stanley and Craftsman work, but they are not Snap-on, Wera, Knipex, or Matco. That may not mean anything to you, but I do understand what you are talking about. In the case of mechanics tools, no you can't, the tool is finished as is. You can start with that design though, modify it and make it right. In the case of magical tools, you have to start somewhere, and adapting something to yourself is part of learning.
"Don\'t take life too seriously, or you\'ll never get out of it alive." (Bugs Bunny)

HeartShadow

  • Adept Member
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 2195
  • Total likes: 3
    • View Profile
    • http://www.flamekeeping.org
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2012, 08:05:34 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;64093
Early in my training with my teacher, I was given an assignment: adopt a couple of certain forms of psychic cleansing and protection, drawn from folk magic sources primarily.  This was something that I wrestled with constantly; I found something that somewhat appealed to me, and I tried to make it work, and indeed, it worked, kind of, sort of.

Some time later, I came back to this assignment with something like dread, as I feared being unable to find somethign that really worked, like all the tools - perfectly sufficient to the task - were an outfit that just didn't fit right, or which, while fitting, were just not attractive to wear.  And I found an idea, chased a thought sideways, put a little twist on it, and found something perfect.  And when I shared what I'd done with my teacher, she said that it was pretty awesome.

This is something that happens to me a lot - I have something that's good enough (usually something that works a good deal better than that particular assignment!), and I'm content with it, and don't think I need to go any further with it.  I have an adequate tool, a perfectly good methodology and technique, or whatever.

And usually, I do - I mean, I have my ritual cup sitting on my nightstand right now.  It's nothing hugely special, it holds water just fine in a good quantity for my needs, it has a pleasant shape and meets my quirks for wanting such a thing.  But I don't have any illusion that it's anything beyond good enough for my purposes.  It's possible there exists a cup out there that is mindblowingly amazing for me.  (I suspect in the real world I'll make one when my studio works.)  This ain't it.  But it does what I need it to.

I'm not a very heavy tool user, at least not in my head.  But I look around, and I see the collection of scarves I use for one set of protection magic, the perfume bottle I use for another bit of protection magic, I see my aforementioned cup, I note that the tools I put away so that the Celt's mother wouldn't see them haven't been put back where they belong...  So I think my head is wrong on this.  And some of my tools are good enough.  And some of them are The Right Tool.

Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about here?  How many of your tools are good enough, and how many of them are Right?  How do you know when a tool is The Right Tool?  How does it affect your magic to work with something that precisely attuned?  Can you make a good enough tool into a Right Tool?  How?

 
This sounds a lot like how I felt when I first discovered upscale knitting NEEDLES.  I knew the yarn made a difference - I didn't expect the needles to.

But .. yeah, you end up with the same stuff either way, but the RIGHT tools are just more comfortable and easy to work with and just FEEL right.

In state of contrast, none of my crochet hooks have ever been anything but just a handy tool.  They're nice and they're there, but I could replace them without a blink.

I'm not sure a good-enough tool can ever become a just-right tool, unless the problem with it was lack of use.  Like it needed the oils from the fingers to really shine kind of thing.  There's just a difference between functional and a joy to use.

RandallS

  • Administrator
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: NE Ohio
  • Posts: 10092
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 225
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Hellenic Pagan
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 08:07:46 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;64093
And usually, I do - I mean, I have my ritual cup sitting on my nightstand right now.  It's nothing hugely special, it holds water just fine in a good quantity for my needs, it has a pleasant shape and meets my quirks for wanting such a thing.  But I don't have any illusion that it's anything beyond good enough for my purposes.  It's possible there exists a cup out there that is mindblowingly amazing for me.  (I suspect in the real world I'll make one when my studio works.)  This ain't it.  But it does what I need it to.

Unless the particular tool that will be "mindblowingly amazing" for you is obvious to you, you can waste a lot of time and money searching for that "nearly perfect for you" version of the tool. Perhaps, I don't worry about it. If the tools I have do the job well enough, I'm not going to waste much time, energy or money looking for that "awesome for me" tool. I will not turn it down if I stumble across it and can obtain it, of course.

I'm known people who fell into the "searching for the perfect tool" trap. They waste a lot of time searching for "perfect" and sometimes even put off actual work because their tools, while adequate for the job, just aren't  amzing for the job. I refuse to fall into this trap -- because I know how easy it would be for me to fall into "waiting for perfection".
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free
OSR.SPACE: Old School Tabletop RPG Community

Vale

  • Master Member
  • ******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 333
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2012, 10:21:16 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;64093

Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about here?  How many of your tools are good enough, and how many of them are Right?  How do you know when a tool is The Right Tool?  How does it affect your magic to work with something that precisely attuned?  Can you make a good enough tool into a Right Tool?  How?

Most of my tools are "good enough". In fact most of them do dual duty in that if I need a bowl for some working or other I'll grab one from the kitchen cupboard, use it, stick it in the dish washer and put it back in the cupboard. The besom is the best thing I've  ever found for sweeping up dried leaves as well as sweeping unwanted visitors out of the door.

I'm sure my forebears in folk magic would have loved to have had bespoke tools but most of them would not have been able to afford to have "special" tools other than those they could make themselves. In fact the couple of "right" tools I do have are those I've made myself or have been made for me. I don't think they work any better but they give me pleasure to use.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 10:22:16 am by Vale »

Catherine

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 990
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2012, 10:32:50 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;64093

Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about here?  How many of your tools are good enough, and how many of them are Right?  How do you know when a tool is The Right Tool?  How does it affect your magic to work with something that precisely attuned?  Can you make a good enough tool into a Right Tool?  How?

 
I think I do, yes.

The problem that I've run into is, changing needs over time. There was a time when I had a lot more space. I don't anymore. I've had to collect tools in miniature to fit into the space that I have now and it's been a challenge. I've started off with "good enough", worked with that until I've found "right".

When I find "right", I just know it. It's easier to do what needs to be done. I don't have to make the same kinds of adjustments. Much like the difference between a hammer for a nail and a rock for nail, the "right" tool makes everything easier, and does the job better.

The only times I really turn "good enough" into "right" is with statuary. I never find statues that are perfect, so I find the closest I can get and paint them. I seem to go into a semi trance state and let the deity who's being represented direct me. That's lead to some interesting color choices, like tM with pewter colored skin, but it works.

Shadow

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 172
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2012, 01:53:08 pm »
Quote from: Vale;64133
Most of my tools are "good enough". In fact most of them do dual duty in that if I need a bowl for some working or other I'll grab one from the kitchen cupboard, use it, stick it in the dish washer and put it back in the cupboard.

 
I don't do an awful lot that requires tools but when I do this is pretty much how I work.

When I first started out I was so obsessed with everything being 'right' and good enough just wasn't... well, good enough. Rather than finding the right tools I ended up having none and becoming very stressed about the whole situation. Eventually I reached a point in my path where the right thing for me was to chill out and just use what I had on hand as and when it was required. I feel much, much calmer and happier about my path this way.

That's not to say if I found something that felt right I wouldn't purchase/use it, it's just something I no longer feel is of upmost importance to my particular way of working.

Aisling

  • Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 3451
  • Country: 00
  • Total likes: 64
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Eclectic Pagan Witch
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2012, 03:44:33 pm »
Quote from: Shadow;64156
When I first started out I was so obsessed with everything being 'right' and good enough just wasn't... well, good enough. Rather than finding the right tools I ended up having none and becoming very stressed about the whole situation. Eventually I reached a point in my path where the right thing for me was to chill out and just use what I had on hand as and when it was required. I feel much, much calmer and happier about my path this way.

 
This was my early experience as well.  I spent far too much time worrying about whether I had the right tool and not nearly enough time on the work itself. This also, for me, spiraled into a collection of stuff when I would go searching for the right tool.  At one point, I had a collection of more than a dozen ritual knives, not because I wanted a collection, but that I wanted the "perfect" one for me.  In the end, I find that I'm happiest using a beat-up boot dagger that I've had for years.

Now I'm a subscriber to the "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are" school of thought. The tool that I use may not be the perfect one for the job, but as long as the end result is the same, I'm usually willing to use a good-enough tool to save myself the time, energy, and resources to find the right tool.  These days, the only "tool" that I worry about getting right is my mind.  If the intent, focus, and energy aren't there, it doesn't matter how right the physical tools are.
Into the Grey Mists (Spiritual Blog)

"All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want.
But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them."
~Neil Gaiman,
American Gods

monsnoleedra

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Banned!
  • Posts: 957
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2012, 03:55:45 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;64123
Unless the particular tool that will be "mindblowingly amazing" for you is obvious to you, you can waste a lot of time and money searching for that "nearly perfect for you" version of the tool. Perhaps, I don't worry about it. If the tools I have do the job well enough, I'm not going to waste much time, energy or money looking for that "awesome for me" tool. I will not turn it down if I stumble across it and can obtain it, of course.

I'm known people who fell into the "searching for the perfect tool" trap. They waste a lot of time searching for "perfect" and sometimes even put off actual work because their tools, while adequate for the job, just aren't  amzing for the job. I refuse to fall into this trap -- because I know how easy it would be for me to fall into "waiting for perfection".

 
This makes me think of the way we did things in the military.  There was always the "Dream" tool that we would prefer or desire if we could have it.  Then there was realility in that we made do with what was at hand and did just as well with them as any of the "Dream" tools would have done.

Many of them were probably unsightly to look at and at times cumbersome to use but they stood up to the daily demands placed upon them.  We could drop them, bang them or worse but as soon as we picked them up we knew them better than we would ever come to know any of those "Dream" tools.

Had we waited around for those special or "Dream" tools we'd still probably be waiting even today to get it done.

Granted some things one had to wait on the special or "Dream" tool but that was never because of what we needed to do with it but because of what some manufacture had placed upon the contract.

Aster Breo

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 2810
  • Country: 00
  • Total likes: 32
    • View Profile
The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2012, 04:08:09 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;64093

Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about here?  

 
The perfect is the enemy of the good, as they say.

I don't do much in the way of magic, so I don't really have tools, per se.  But I experienced what you're talking about in my quest for the "perfect" Brighid's cross pendant.  I even had a couple made to my own designs, but they were never exactly *right*.  When I finally did find the "right" one (which was also made for me, as it happens), it was unmistakeable.

Then I went back to the earlier attempts and repurposed them into amulets.  Because of their designs, each one filled a particular need.  They took a little modifying, mostly inscribing something on the back or adding a bead, or something like that, but they all turned out really well as amulets.

Now, for super-personal things like that, I try really hard to get the design right, and I've learned to live with it for a while before commissioning a piece.  If the design stands the test of time over several months, it's usually fine.  Not that I've commissioned much since I stopped working...  :(

~ Aster
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 06:21:37 pm by Marilyn/Absentminded »
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible

Aster Breo

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 2810
  • Country: 00
  • Total likes: 32
    • View Profile
The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2012, 04:11:23 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;64169

Dang. I screwed up the formatting of the quote code in my last post, so it's not showing up correctly.  I think I must have put a space in the last brackets, or something.

Unfortunately, Tapatalk won't let me edit it, so I can't fix it.  If another staff member could, I'd be grateful!

Thanks!

~ Aster
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible

Marilyn/Absentminded

  • Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 975
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2012, 06:23:38 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;64171

If another staff member could, I'd be grateful!

 
Done.

Absent
I smile when I\'m angry.  I cheat and I lie
I do what I have to do to get by
But I know what is wrong, and I know what is right
And I die for the truth in my secret life

   In My Secret Life, L. Cohen

Aster Breo

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 2810
  • Country: 00
  • Total likes: 32
    • View Profile
The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2012, 06:45:40 pm »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;64187
Done.

Absent

Thank you!
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible

wadjet

  • Master Member
  • ******
  • Join Date: Jul 2012
  • Posts: 327
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
    • http://eirikra.blogspot.com/
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2012, 11:31:11 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;64190
[]

I really like that everyone in this thread compared practical examples to magical ones. Other examples I can think of are brushes and paints - high-pigment acrylic and fine sable brushes are worth the extra cost when painting tiny detail.

I wholeheartedly support using the "right" item over "winging it", because intuition has never been my strong point. Items have specific properties for specific uses, and you'll get the best results with the best tool. I know there are many people in our community who work in the exact opposite way - they trust their senses and how something feels to them as being more accurate and/or important, but I personally don't ascribe to that belief.

As for making a so-so tool into a good tool: one option is to reallocate the purpose. I have a number of different working sets of magical tools, because they "go" together. One set is comprised mostly of items I made myself, but I was originally using a small silver chalice for the Cup. It didn't look out of place, but it didn't feel right to me. One day while I was rummaging through boxes I found a rustic pewter cup that was a birth gift from my Godmother. Perfect! The chalice is now part of another set.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 11:31:54 pm by wadjet »

Phaedric

  • Apprentice
  • ***
  • Join Date: Jul 2012
  • Posts: 35
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2012, 07:52:19 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;64093
Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about here?  How many of your tools are good enough, and how many of them are Right?  How do you know when a tool is The Right Tool?  How does it affect your magic to work with something that precisely attuned?  Can you make a good enough tool into a Right Tool?  How?


In his informative book, "The Secret Temple," Robert Wang offers a lot of practical advice about magical instruments. He acknowledges that, for those without the time, money or talent to make their own (which is the best option), a "stripped-down" version can be achieved that, while lacking the "vitality" of those made by your own hands, will be adequate for the purpose. He goes on to say that, no matter how you come by the instruments (made or bought), the ritual consecration is the key to making them "right."
Hamlet was right! But so was P.T. Barnum . . .

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
2 Replies
334 Views
Last post September 25, 2012, 12:13:30 am
by spoOk
6 Replies
940 Views
Last post August 16, 2013, 06:37:42 pm
by Tana
1 Replies
1103 Views
Last post November 12, 2014, 02:36:11 am
by Faemon
5 Replies
1139 Views
Last post October 27, 2016, 08:26:08 pm
by Voren
5 Replies
481 Views
Last post June 07, 2017, 05:31:33 am
by Vixen

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 37
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 4
  • Dot Users Online:

* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Co-Hosts:
LyricFox & Randall

Senior Staff:
Darkhawk

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Sunflower

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Board Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, HarpingHawke, Jenett, Morag, rocquelaire, Sefiru

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Reserve Staff:
Aisling

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Cauldron Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]

Site Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]
Webmaster:
Randall