This came to me while thinking about painting – while actually painting.
We forget that tools are obstacles as often as they are helpful.
They introduce agendas that can easily lead us astray. Joy, creativity, dialogue require us to keep tools in their places – as well as avoiding those attributes of striving, following means towards their ends, and fixating on goals, all attitudes that tool use tends to support.
In painting we use tools, but not only as they are intended. We use them as much to get in our way as to facilitate. In either direction, tools help and hinder us.
Mastery is the development of a relationship with tools that moves us through this continuum of their possibilities without tying us to their limitations.
Another thought relating tools to intention and from there to striving:
Tools are sharpened intention.
They heighten focus and direct what had been a mere intention. In this way they generate momentum. This can be useful, but it is also why tools carry us over into overreach. When collapse would be a better option; tools, their use, our habits of turning to them for results, even our assumption that a loop of intention, striving, results, repeat is beneficial, no matter what; tools hold us on a course we’d be better off abandoning. This applies equally to “resistance” as it does to reactionary action.