Yesterday I worked the earth. this is not a normal thing for me. I have a job that utilizes my mind and my heart, but not my body. And I dont like to garden. Yard work has always been a chore for me, because, I believe, it does not move me in the way art, or music, or parenting the kids, or teaching all move me. I look at Nicole after spending the day in the yard with the plants and the vegetables, and bringing a sense of life, love and healing, and she comes in with a well-worn, but sparkly smile of joy from the day. With the exception of making a big batch of compost, I have no joy in working the yard.
That said there is something magical about driving your hands into the dirt, to hold it, and feel it, and become one with it. I love the worms and the roly-poly bugs (the snails and the earwigs, i can do without).
I love that way that it feels and how it makes me feel. I want to play in it.
But yesterday had a confluence of events that had me outside. The first event, one of the scouts in Jackson’s troop was finishing up the final service project that is required to become an Eagle Scout, and he needed help. the scout was improving the land at a community nursery and had built a large planter. We spend our time shoveling chicken manure into wheel barrels and putting them in the planter. once the manure was in the planter, it had to be spread around.
The second event was springtime, and Nicole wanted to get out and pull weeds, move plants, plant vegtables, and clear the yard of the winter detritus. She asked me to dig a couple of holes, turn the soil in our vegetable beds, and to rotate the compost.
I was a physical doer for other people. My back is not used to the shoveling and twisting, and so I feel it today. I felt proud of the the sore muscles in my back, and the tender pads in my hands, and the sore forearm muscles: I earned them!
Later, as I was sitting on the couch, appreciating the aliveness of my sore body, I recalled a poster I had seen earlier in the week about not looking at “manual” laborers and telling our kids that that is why you need to get a good education—it doesn’t convey the value of learning; it only devalues those that work in physical ways.
I have not said that to anyone before, but I have thought something similar. Physical work is not a joy for me, and it is hard, and I am thankful both for the work I get to do and that it provides me means to hire artists to do the physical work our house needs. But i also recognize the professional elitism of that thought too.
I never had to do physical work as a main part of my job; it has always been secondary. Part of that is growing up middle class, part of that is following a career based on the skill sets I have, which also came about because I was privileged enough to attend college.
I realize, as I checked my elitism yesterday, that while I work with my mind and heart in my job, those that care for the land, and farm, and build things also use their mind, their heart, and their bodies. and it is time that i start thinking with more respect.