Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Pleasures and Pains of Sweat Equity

This should be a nice moment. The evening before the concrete is poured. All the excavation's done, all the leveling. In the morning the truck comes in and pours 3.5 cubic meters of the good stuff and then we'll level and trowel off. The columns will be barn board and clapboards and maybe someday if we sell up, bored and miserable with our lives, we'll slap on the fake cement asbestos look alike to match the original 1950s asbestos siding which is like apocalypse proof. The doors I'm looking forward to. They'll be 3 foot each, hand mortised and tenoned and paneled patio doors meeting in the middle. And then I can dream about which boat to build.

A book my wife checked out from the library for me sums up the experience rather rosily and eloquently.
"The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does because he has no real effect in the world. But the tradesman must reckon with the infallible judgement of reality, where one's failures and shortcomings cannot be interpreted away. His well-founded pride is far from the gratuitous 'self-esteem' that educators would impart to students as though by magic."

Shop Class as Soulcraft; An Inquiry into the Value of Work, by Mathew B. Crawford.

So of course this is not boasting. And I didn't just spend the entire afternoon trying to get my Husqvarna commercial walk behind mower to run. I ended up disassembling the deck from the engine so I could carry it uphill to the trailer to take it in to the shop. Nothing quiet and easy about me now. I'm ready for a beer and a shower and am prone to feelings of self-pity.

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