And establish thou the work of our hands…

I worked outside today, for the first time in quite some while. I’m not a physically active person, especially during the summer. I often prefer to spend my days sitting, either talking with folks or working on small projects of my own. Nevertheless, Dad needed help outside today, and I was more than happy to help him out.

Dad is a musician by trade, but enjoys working with his hands a fair amount. A few years back, we had a mammoth oak taken down in front of our house, and the wood from that tree has been lying under a tarp off to the side of our house since then. I awoke this morning to the sound of hammer and pneumatic drill, and wandered outside only to get hauled into a significant wood moving project that involved worming my way under our house-side deck, putting in supports, and then stacking some thousand dollars worth of good, red oak underneath it to protect if from the elements. Dad hopes that one day, when he retired, he’ll be able to haul it out and begin to work with it, turning some nice furniture for mom. I recommended that he make a good writing desk for me, someday.

In any case, the work wasn’t terrible: only a few hours worth of labor. Anybody who understands manual labor will certainly recognize that a few hours of lifting wood is no real significant task; I certainly do. But to someone who is unaccustomed to heavy-lifting type work, it was just enough to get some good exercise, and create a not-unpleasent burn in my limbs. I’ll sleep well tonight.

I’ve been reading Leax’s Grace is Where I Live, and the first essay speaks on physical labor.  John Leax, who teaches at Houghton, lived in a hand-made house for a fair part of his life. He helped to build it as a child, with his parents. He is a man who understands physical labor, as he is fond of saying, not just with his mind but in the soreness of his body. Even now, he owns a spot of woods he has deemed Covenant Acres, and is laboring to blaze a prayer trail through it. He has no gas stove, and finds his own wood for heat in the winter. Physical labor is a common element in his work, and I can’t help but wonder if there is something necessary about it.

At the end of this day, I can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment that I haven’t felt in a long time. I’m a writer, and as such work in a never ending process of refinement. The thought that I could wake up in the morning, start a project, and have it done and finished by the time I put my head back down on the pillow is foreign, but also very attractive.

Of course, in Grand Rapids I will have no wood to haul or decks to work under. Nevertheless, I feel that it would be good to find some way to work with my hands. Maybe I could find some wood myself, and take up whittling.

I could make a chess set.

I leave for Grand Rapids either tomorrow or the next day, and then I start significant work. I’m nervous, I admit, that the internship won’t go well. This is completely unbased, of course. I’ve been told I’m a good editor thus far, and never otherwise (not since fifth grade, anyway). Nevertheless, I’m, as always, nervous.

I spoke with Cameron today, as well. I’m forming an idea for a novel (which is a daily occurrence for me, but I actually think this idea has some merit) and finally have a goal for the summer as far as my writing goes. In addition to propagating this blog, I’m going to be working on a few short stories, to flesh out some characters I’m thinking on. I’ll post the ones that are appropriate for my readership. I’ve been wanting to post some fiction in any case. I’m trying to avoid having overt violence and vulgarity on my website for the moment, and sometimes both of those are unavoidable with fiction. If you don’t mind either, feel free to contact me or just leave a comment mentioning that you’d like some reading material, and I can E-mail you the documents.

I’m about to go to bed, feeling accomplished. I could get used to this, if I could only the discipline to keep it up.


1 Comment

  1. Chase said,

    June 22, 2007 at 7:37 am

    I am often tempted by such tasks. It is why I blog I think. By sitting down and typing out a short post I can say that I have done something today while still writing. Sadly I confuse this “accomplishment” style writing with the real thing and need to have the “discipline” needed to really sit down and write.

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