Thursday, January 14, 2010

The relativity of hardness

When I was a suburban youngster, "hard work" meant applying yourself to school and chores, and following through on projects, and honoring the obligations of duty.

As an adult, "hard work" meant pretty much the same thing, extended into the employment arena.

It wasn't until spouse and I purchased a homestead in rural Vermont, and I undertook gardening and house-and-yard projects -- then, later, heating with wood -- that I learned a new meaning of "hard work." That's the kind that physically exhausts you into a heap and introduces minor injury into your life.

There's no value difference between these types of work and their degrees of difficulty. Hard work is hard work, in whatever form. But working in the physical realm has educated me in how other people live, and how our forebears lived, in away that all my school and office experience failed to do. It's become difficult to take things for granted, because I now know what's required to make them happen; and I deeply respect folks who labor for a living, because now I know how hard their lives can be.

Hard physical labor does have its rewards, in a sense of job-well-done, and increased strength, and sound sleep at night. You often see the fruits of your labors more quickly and directly than from intellectual endeavors. It's still just plain hard, though, and I can't say I love it. Nevertheless, it allows you to live economically, in that you don't have to pay people do everything, and you can get fit without having to buy time at a gym!

Carolyn Haley

Author: The Mobius Striptease (e-novel, Club Lighthouse Publishing)
Open Your Heart with Gardens
(nonfiction, DreamTime Publishing)
First-year blog archives at

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