At this time of year many of us are transitioning from vacation back to work. It has me thinking about the meaning of labor.
This twin hull boat model was made from a lobster buoy, slabs of granite for the keel, and another Styrofoam buoy pushed through sticks for the sails.
Idiomatic expressions of labor include: labor of love, being in labor, laboring for something, fruits of one’s labor, to labor over someone or something – and then, there’s Labor Day!
By the time you read this Labor Day will have passed. I will have finished my watermelon, closed the door on my summerhouse, and inhaled one last salty and muddy scent of ocean and pond as I head down the path to my car.
Today, machines and robots, all of which use fossil fuels, have replaced much of our hand labor. We have increased consumption while largely losing the connection between our hands and the results of labor. It was once a common site to see someone weave a blanket, forge a metal hook, or position large chunks of stone into a wall in support of a road.
Image courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation via Ken Schwarz
I think this is why we see a resurgence of interest in do-it-yourself, local food and organic farming, crafts and other handwork. We need to engage our bodies to balance our brains and hearts. Handwork grounds us.
A book I love on this subject is: The Case For Working With Your Hands: Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixings Things Feels Good, by Matthew Crawford (Viking).
As we return to our jobs and our daily routines, let us not forget to balance the labor that supports us financially with labor that nourishes our body, heart and soul.
What do you do with your hands to bring balance into your life?