Hard Work

There is a depth in the human condition that we of the 21st century are losing. It is the joy and fellowship of craftsmanship and hard work. Craftsmanship that is born of physical skill and care. Hard work of the sort that makes you ache and sweat and sleep like the dead at the end of the day. There are those in this country who tell us that this is the work of lesser people. We hire people to do our physical work while we train Americans to do the "important" work that usually involves a desk and a computer. These people are missing a whole chunk of the meaning of life.

The men who are restoring Rogue know that. Work, hard work, has always been a part of their lives, and craftsmanship is something so important that they will sacrifice their weekends and evenings for the experience of the rapidly dying skill of restoring a wooden boat.

They were framing her today. This evening, after work, now that the days are longer. There was a palpable excitement in getting so much work done. A ribald humor that follows in the company of men. Such joy was there. Stories of the oak frames, soaking for weeks in the ocean and excaping in a spring storm. The boys chased them all down through the storm and the wind and the rain with the floats dancing hard under them. The sense of man against nature at her wildest that we so rarely experience anymore. The air rang with satisifaction as each frame squeezed into place. There was a sort of intoxication in the air that mere alcohol couldn't touch. A profound, deep joy of hard work and good company.

This is America, the America that the journalists never write about because to those who live it daily it is mundane. Yet these are the men who built America and keep America running while politicans talk and bankers bank and investors invest and CEOs do whatever it is that CEOs do. These men are the heart of our country. This is the physical world that so many of us have forgotten. It brings an intense
satisifaction born of the smell of the steaming wood and the smell of your own body as it bends to physical work in the fellowship of your friends who know and understand physical work. It's the patterns of the wood under your fingers and the ache in your back from the cement floor. This work carries with it a sense of rightness that can be found nowhere else, life as it's meant to be lived, with a depth of spirit that can be reached in no other way. These men know that the boat they are restoring will be used for youth in their community. But I believe that their happiness comes from the work itself.

I left that old shed feeling that I had touched something profound and almost holy. This is what we were all meant to find in our work. I saw joy in the men who are restoring our boat. I share their joy, but I can't touch it as they do. It runs far too deep. It can only be earned by hours and hours of hard work for the simple pleasure of working hard.


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