Thursday, June 18, 2009

Manual Labor

Let me state right from the beginning that I do very little manual labor. Most of my life I have been an office worker. Office work tends to drain your brain and leave you feeling brain dead at the end of the day. It doesn't matter if the work is the usual daily drudgery or something a little more challenging. On the rare occasion that I might be asked to do something intellectually challenging, I actually get energized. I admit that I am a classic, introverted couch potato who has never been a very energetic person. When I was very young, however, and a lot stronger, I did more manual labor. I was once a young novice living in a monastery where manual labor was seen as a path to God. In the life of a monk manual labor is considered as spiritual as attending formal prayer services. Most of the time in my life, whenever my work day is over, or whenever I have personal time, my top priority is to grab a book, listen to some music, or watch a favorite movie. I would never do manual labor for fun and I must be highly motivated to do any required manual labor. I tend to procrastinate about anything I do not want to do. Most required tasks in my life are accomplished strictly through an act of the will, some acquired discipline, and the need to earn my daily bread. Having said all of this, today I spent some time doing unforced manual labor. Earlier today we had some very heavy thunderstorms in my part of the world. My back yard ended up with a number of downed tree limbs. It wasn't nearly as severe as last winter's ice storm but enough to require some clean up before the next lawn mowing. In a spurt of unusual energy I was inexplicably motivated to go outside and clean up the back yard. Actually, there was some motivation. Earlier this week it was junk day in my neighborhood. As of today the city has not picked up anyone's junk. I knew if I could carry or drag all my tree limbs out to the curb I could have them hauled away as junk. While doing all of this I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I was wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt to protect myself from any possible poison ivy. It was almost 90 degrees. I was an idiot to be doing manual labor in the middle of a very hot afternoon. The good news is that I accomplished my tasks and I am still alive to write about it. Even though I do not really enjoy manual labor I always feel a great sense of accomplishment when I do it. It is much more satisfying than 90% of the work I do in my office. Today I am tired. Tomorrow I will be sore. However, I am also happy that I did it.

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