It was not, in this moment, the tent-peg which held up the World.
But that mattered not very much at all to Corm. He hammered, steady, slow, but not too slow, pounding with his breathing instead of against it, when he could. This tent-pole, he treated as every other ten-pole, which is to say, like what is obviously the most important thing in the world.
Perhaps that’s the secret: to hammer every tent-pole carefully, but hard, hard, hard; to hit it steadily, but not break it. Every tent-pole must be treated as if it is one of the poles which holds up the World, or the Universe, or (if we are very lucky) one of the truly great supports which holds up the very Sky, or even the Big Top.
And perhaps THAT’S the secret: to treat all the great things and the lesser things alike, to do them well because the best hope we have for any kind of sensible Universe is that the parts, both simple and complex, are installed properly, or at least, that we make of it the best job we can.
From this, adjacent to it, perhaps, we can recognize the teaching: treat the small things as if they were the great ones, for perhaps they are.
Then again, perhaps the secret of hammering the proper tent-pole is to spend a short summer doing it, then go about doing it where it doesn’t belong, and preferably for large amounts of money. For example, you could be the bass player of a nouveau punk band called “The Roustabouts”, and while the keyboardist (keyboardists were officially declared punk in 1983 while no-one was looking)- whilst the keyboardist is pounding out the bass part, and whichever particular idiot has the guitar tonight is (hopefully) remembering that the only way to murder a stringed instrument while also causing sounds some people will recognize as music is to throttle some part of the head containing strings, while smacking or plucking or otherwise committing some form of assault over the bits of string which, in turn, have the misfortune to live over the hole which takes in, re-resonates, and amplifies the sonic manifestations of your auditory misfunction—
while all that’s going on, you could, with great ceremony and to loud applause and with what will turn out to be a brief but blissful misunderstanding of how venue insurance works, pound the damn spike into the stage.
Honestly, possibly the best lesson is that if you take off your very fashionable clothes (alone; otherwise, it’s a whole different act)—and then put on the attire of a day-laborer, and walk into the sort of high-ended art establishment where people buy the sorts of bits of colored paper about they wish to brag, generally for their provenance (because, most of the time, the actual color ain’t much to write home about, assuming anyone) wrote anymore—and pull out your spike and your carefully-scuffed hammer, and pound the former with the latter, almost straight down, right into the floor. Do it quick enough that your wouldn’t-get-chosen-as-pipecleaners-even-if-we-were-invaded-by-giants-with-a-sudden-need-for-craft-material arms don’t get tired, but not quite so rapid that people don’t have time to snap a few pictures, and make sure the thing leans at enough of an angle that it’s easy to hang a price tag off of it, and perhaps THAT’S the secret.
Corm simply pounds the tent peg because it’s a tent-peg and needs to be pounded. That’s not to say it’s his only thought on the subject, but if we all waited for a profound and meaningful moment before hitting things, no tents would ever get erected, and no Circuses would ever come to town.
And that would be bloody damn horrible.