In praise of scissors

Ah, the lowly scissors. I picked up a pair this morning and cut some paper, then paused to marvel—perhaps for the first time—at the simplicity and value of this tool.

Four types of scissors

Image in public domain

Since I was a preschooler, clumsily wielding blunt-edged paper scissors, I’ve used this tool—for cutting tape, rope, paper, thread and fabric, food packaging, flowers, hair, and all sorts of other materials. I’ve used scissors, shears, snips and clippers, all versions of the same basic design.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen the demise of the mimeograph machine, the rotary dial telephone, keypunch machines, computers that occupied entire rooms to do what a laptop or smartphone can do now, and loads of other outmoded technologies.

Yet scissors remain a time-tested implement unsurpassed for their effectiveness in kitchens, operating rooms and clinics, artist studios, sheep pastures, and mail rooms throughout the world.

According to Wikipedia, scissors were probably invented in ancient Egypt in about 1500 BC. The original design was not cross-bladed, but in about AD 100, the Romans came up with that innovation. The modern-day pivoted metal scissors date back to the 1700’s in Europe.

So what does this have to do with ease? It’s about the use of tools, and the importance of choosing the right tool for the job. And the ways in which the use of tools promotes ease.

Have you ever insisted on doing something without the right tool, only to be frustrated by ineffective attempts and the length of time it takes to get the job done?  Admitting the need for a real hammer or screwdriver or scissors, then taking that quick walk to the toolbox or office supply drawer, significantly decreases the time and frustration of doing the job.

Ease is using the right tool to get the job done.

Gratefulness is appreciating some ancient Egyptian who had the crazy idea to put two blades together — and for the endurance of a simple tool that’s still reliable after thousands of years.

To your ease!

Pat Daniel, Ph.D.

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