Saturday, October 21, 2006

It's not just about the sweat

What is it about physical labor that leaves me feeling so grounded and so satisfied that just for a while, everything about the world feels okay? I can work for hours, sweating in the sun, pulling weeds, mowing down brush, pulling up fence, chopping logs or digging in the dirt and never tire of the tasks. No matter how physically exhausting they may be I always press on. I end the day often sore and bone-tired, scratched and bruised and sometimes feeling like I went a few rounds in the ring with a Yeti, but I always feel good in the end. I can spend the same amount of time in the office working my butt off on a story, and never feel the same kind of deep accomplishment that I do after a day working outside.

I once took one of those personality profiles, the kind that tell you what kind of job you'd be best at, and I apparently would excel at operating heavy equipment all day. A job with a task that, when the day is over, you can look back at what has been done and say "Yeah, I did that. And I did good."

I've always known I just do better when I'm using my hands and my body and the job I've done can be seen. I love my job as a journalist, and I'm good at it, but it doesn't give me the same kind of satisfaction cleaning a barn full of stalls or hand-digging a plot of earth to prepare it for plants does.

You would think I'd be happy to be paid to do what I love doing and I'm good at doing, but there is just something missing and at the end of the day, I feel very little satisfaction and rarely a strong sense of accomplishment.

It's just's not things, not tasks. There is no sweat, there is no aching muscles or full body exhaustion. It's the deeper exhaustion of the mind that is harder to explain, and harder to understand.

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