the thread between her fingers
... philosophizing, in a sense that does not involve being a philosopher, is a means of warding off many disagreeable feelings and, besides, a stimulant to the mind that introduces an interest into its occupations — an interest which, just because it is independent of external contingencies, is powerful and sincere, though it is merely in the nature of a game, and keeps the vital force from running down...
But for people of limited intelligence [country people?], merely puttering about in a carefree situation is a substitute that serves almost the same function, and those who are always busy doing nothing are usually long-lived as well. — A very old man found a great interest in making the numerous clocks in his room strike always one after another, never at the same time — an interest that gave both him and the watchmaker more than enough to do all day and earned the watchmaker a living. For another, feeding and caring for his songbirds served to keep him busy from his own mealtime to his bedtime. A wealthy old lady found a way to fill her time with idle chatter at the spinning wheel; and when she was very old she complained, just as if she had lost a good companion, that she was in danger of dying from boredom now that she could no longer feel the thread between her fingers.
ex “The Conflict of the Faculties,” (7:103) in Immanuel Kant, Religion and Rational Theology (translated and edited by Allen Wood, George Di Giovanni; Cambridge UP, 1996) : 317 : link (partial)
Der Streit der Facultäten (translation and introduction by Mary J. Gregor; 1979) : 185 : link (partial)
Der Streit der Fakultäten (1798) : 177 : link