Until the weather turned “normal” late last week, I’ve been obsessively building something outside. It’s something that will bring a lot of my efforts together, not necessarily effortlessly, but certainly enjoyably. We should all aim to get a lot of enjoyment out of life.
But I wanted to talk about the process of building. I have mostly LOVED getting extremely sore: I enjoy this about gardening, too. Certainly, I haven’t strained myself into a hospital visit, but solid hours of lifting anything is not part of my normal day: at most, I lift my laptop and piles of drawings, sometimes a book…my normal work is not exactly physically demanding. But construction!
I am trying to puzzle out what it is about manual labor that is so immediately appealing to me. We discussed something similar to this over the Thanksgiving table. My father in law seriously believes I should go into pie-baking as a sideline. “But once you do it for a living, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it,” he said, taking another bite. So: is it the novelty of construction? I build things all the time for a living, and though the same kind of thought process goes into it, doing architecture on the computer isn’t the same as constructing architecture with my hands. But I think I have figured it out, why I enjoy it so much: it’s the time required.
I believe I get more accomplished in 3 hours of laying bricks than I do in 3 hours of computer time. It’s actually productive time, well-spent, with progress observed and felt.
Don’t get me wrong: if it wasn’t for computers, I wouldn’t be able to work from home. I wouldn’t have all of you in my life, and life would be a lot less easy in so many respects. But computers are A HUGE TIME-SUCK. Really! This is not a unique observation, nor certainly is it new to me, but this contrast between outdoor work and computer work has been very jarring. Computers steal time from our lives, minute by uploading minute, autosave by refresh by page load. Somehow, we’ve acquiesced to this, we’ve agreed to spend a large portion of our lives allowing our asses to grow ever larger, sitting in front of a screen, all because we think these tools are indispensable, and helpful. And so muscles atrophy, brain synapses misfire. I’ve always thought the television was bad but now I am reconsidering this damned internet connection, seeing it as the black hole of time that it is.
All the more reason to pick up a hammer.