When my husband Matt was about ten years old, his grandfather started taking him to the family cherry orchards on Saturday afternoons. Matt would work alongside the farm hands, whistling as he went, to let his grandfather know he wasn’t eating any of the cherries intended for the bushel. a full day’s work netted Matt 50 cents. If his grandfather bought him a hot dog and soda, they called it even.
As a teenager, his dad would call up from the breakfast table, “Two minutes!” Matt knew better than to challenge – he was dressed, fed and out raking leaves or tilling soil before the sun had risen over the ridge.
I was horrified by these stories during our first years together. I mourned for his lost childhood, thinking gratefully of my Saturday mornings in front of the cartoons, slurping cereal. After we were married, though, I noticed quickly he’d be done with his chores while I was still cursing over the dishes. His focus was intense but cheerful. He got the job done well and quickly because he put himself completely into the task – because he’d learned to enjoy honest work.
No matter if he’s cleaning the gutters or finishing a report, Matt embraces each project as an opportunity for expression. His lovingly stirred spaghetti sauce says, “I feed and nourish our family.” His well- weeded garden says, “I savor my connection to the earth.” Through example after example, he demonstrates the key to happiness in whatever we do. Matt’s lesson: All work – on the field, in the factory, or on the computer – can be honest and fulfilling, if we approach it from a place of devotion.
As Matt has shown me, honest work is our contribution to the community and to the world, the outward manifestation of our soul’s purpose. Just as the trees keep the air clean, give us shade, and shower us with fruits and nuts, so too we are we each charged with our task, creating the future, one brick – or compost pile or database or cherry pie – at a time.
By Mariska Van Aalst from the book 50 Things that really matter
My wife read this to me this week, said it reminded her of me.
I’m sure our kids have stories to tell.
Daughter pouring concrete with the Papa.
Never too young to start. (Grandson and I at his first pour)
I was thinking about this essay on work again this morning. We had an early Saturday morning cement pour at my daughters house. It was a small pour, as far as pours go…just 12 yards of concrete. (See photo @ beginning of this post.)
12 yards = 2 truck loads
Lots of friends and family showed up to get-er-done as they say. Cement truck got there at 7:15 and I was back on the road heading home by 8:30. I love that my 60-year-old body enables me to still do this sort of thing. I did break a sweat, but the rush of endorphins kicked in 3 minutes after I started moving concrete. I know there will come a day, if I live long enough, that I will leave the concrete work to younger men..but until then…
I’ll round this out with a couple of crew pictures…one taken when I was 19 and the second, this past week.
I love my job.
That’s me holding a can of Old Milwaukee back in the day
Crew photo from earlier this week, just after we finished hand setting (20) 30 ft long by 8 ft high garage trusses.