Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Case for Manual Labor

I like getting books for Christmas. This year I forgot my book at home and ended up wandering around in circles or reading the Times on the computer. It wasn't until the 27th that I finally opened something to read. My brother-in-law, Brian, gave me a copy of a little book of philosophy I hadn't heard of called Shop Class as Soulcraft. The author, a PhD in philosophy who owns a motorcycle repair shop, makes the case for the value of working with your hands. Engaging your mind in the creation of something. When I graduated from college twenty years ago, the joke was that I was fit to split firewood and tend sheep. My roommates found this amusing. Graduates of Holy Cross do not become shepherds. Since 1990 I have been a cook, reporter, English tutor, package store clerk, carpenter and laborer, teacher of EFL, substitute teacher, artisan baker, sail maker and carpenter again. The one omission from this list, a print estimator for my father's printing company, was my only real attempt to join the white collar workforce, and it failed. Square peg, round hole. I have spent about thirteen of the last twenty years acquiring various trade skills. Now the joke is that I have an advanced degree in Home Economics. I cut and split my own firewood. I am poised to tend a flock of sheep. Had I known myself a little better twenty years ago perhaps it wouldn't have taken me so long to get here.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Michael - I am glad you found a book to read. You were wearing out the floor with all that wandering around. Perhaps you should have been refining the rules for Sentence Cube Game.

I didn't know you back when you were doing all of those other jobs, but you obviously love what you are doing now. I am not all that experienced in home building or sheep tending, but it is fun to talk to you about all of it - your love for your work makes it interesting to hear about.

It was great to see you all!