Friday, May 13, 2011

Building Character

Sun sprinkled spring beauties
Several weeks ago when we were beginning work on our side-yard landscaping project, Pepper came out to lend a hand.  At nearly 15, she is strong and fit.  She helped me move the sod that Paul was cutting and transfer it to another spot.  It was hard, sweaty work so we kept our chatting to a minimum.

Finally she said, "I love hard work."
"Me too!," I replied.
"Why do you think we like it so much?"
I pondered that a moment.  "It builds character."

She laughed.  "Isn't that just something adults say to make kids work?"

Actually, no.  I believe it.  I think we were designed to work hard.  Hard work shows us that we are capable.  It reinforces the fact that we are "wonderfully made."  It reminds us we are strong and resilient.  It makes us sleep soundly at the end of the day.

Working hard reminds us that we are actually a privileged "few."  For most people on our small planet, everyday life is hard work.  It is humbling to know that people who may have far less to eat and a less luxurious bed are somehow able to work longer and harder with a lot less complaint.

I think working hard alongside others is bonding in a primal and deeply satisfying way.  We are communal creatures and we are meant to struggle together, not alone.  Somehow, looking back at a job well done is so much more fulfilling when we can say, "We did it," rather than, "I did it."  

Culturally, we tend to blame the obesity epidemic on fast and processed foods.  I believe our "fast" lifestyle with the lack of hard work is a huge contributor to this epidemic.  My great grandparents traveled on horseback, used a wringer washer, washed all their dishes by hand, cut and hauled wood to cook on the wood stove, cut the yard with a reel mower, grew much of their own food, cared for their animals, and even walked outside every time they needed the outhouse.  My life of microwaves, dishwashers, indoor plumbing, automobiles and grocery stores is so lacking in work.

That day, working alongside both the girls and Paul, I felt bonded to my community.  I loved having the little ones playing nearby and the feel of the sun on my neck.  I loved having time to contemplate my life but no room for the internet, the telephone or the TV.  I enjoyed  seeing that I am stronger than I was a few years ago, not weaker.  I relished having to soak the dirt off my feet a few hours later.  I loved the smell of the damp earth and the weight of the dirt on my shovel.   I enjoyed feeling the work my muscles were doing.

But the best part of the day was standing together at the end and saying, "Ah, we did this."  So yes, dear child, I truly believe that hard work builds character.  And it builds mine as well as yours!

Photo credit: Teresa Harper

1 comment:

Knights' Mama said...

I love this post, and I couldn't agree more! It may even motivate to get busy this Saturday morning.