“Mom was a waitress,” he explained, “and I used to sit in the booth in the back – where the help would take their break. I sat there and watched her. And I was in awe!” The man described watching his mother during the evening rush. She took orders, remembered to refill coffee mugs, greeted the regulars (and even remembered what they liked). She balanced dishes and food. She joked; she empathized; she laughed; she listened. And as the boy became a man he never lost his appreciation for what “laborers” do. It occurred to him that the duality between “manual labor” and the “academic world” was a false one. The level of cognitive thinking and remembering and creativity required for many a ‘manual task’ never stopped impressing him. And the physical discipline required to stay with it in the academic world is not to be taken lightly.
In the past week I painted a garage. I power-washed it, scraped it, sanded it, wiped it down, and painted it. It took me a week – and I still have a bit of the trim to do. It looks good. It feels good. And I was pleasantly fatigued – physically and mentally – as I made the decisions: Is this scraped enough? Can I reach that from here? Should I buy another can of paint? How much time is it going to take to set up, to clean up? Where will the sun be? Am I hydrated? Where should I position this ladder?
Give thanks for the folks who wait on you, fix your car, paint your house, mind your dog, deliver your paper, take your garbage. Give thanks today for the meaningful work there is to be done – with your head and with your hands.
A blessed Tuesday.