Hard Working Myths

Mundane physical labor has its benefits, such as the time to contemplate the advantages and pitfalls of blood, sweat, and .. choice words. Because grown-up girls don’t cry, we cuss. As when looking high and low for the paint can opener I had yesterday. Someone has taken my chisel and the spoon handle just bends the lid but doesn’t budge it. One small missing tool brings the work to a screeching halt. Do I really have to get in the car and drive down the road for a 44 cent piece of metal? No, I’m going to grab a beer and complain about it on the internet.

This week as I’ve continued my boot camp training for the war of the real work world, I’ve put in my 10-hour shifts on my feet, climbing up and down ladders, breathing in joint compound dust and stressing out my tennis elbow with the paint roller. In the last month I have also moved mountains of yard waste from a neglected overgrown landscape, and all this in triple digit high temperatures.  It’s great therapy for stress and frustration with life.  

Somewhere in my past, someone instilled in me that hard work pays off. This week, after feeling despair that maybe my prospective entrance into job captivity won’t be temporary as my husband can’t seem to make any more dollars ooze out of his own physical exhaustion, I’m thinking I was lied to – or at the least, I misunderstood. Yes, it probably does pay off. I just thought they meant it pays me. I believed there was some big chocolate bunny at the end of this candy land rainbow I’ve been chasing all these years, but I’m getting suspicious that someone already ate it. We have always worked, very hard. And I am very grateful for every blessing and provision in our lives. We are truly blessed in numerous ways I can’t even count. But when it comes to making ends meet, they never quite do.

We’ve tried a lot of schemes and hoped in some investments, but in the end, we are still working harder, not smarter. Now the struggle to survive prevents us from making the changes we greatly desire for a different way of life. Middle-age fear creeps in, and little voices talk about failure and remind you of the choices you made to not do things, like finish college.

But yet, even if I had a degree, I see many unhappy hamsters with degrees getting nowhere on their “work-out” wheels too, only with fancy names on them like BMW and Audi. I could be trapped in a nicer cage than the one I have now, but would I feel any differently?

The last year or so I’ve given much thought to money and our relationships with it. I’ve imagined what the world would be like without it, and it’s a very nice place – although I am not naïve enough to believe that would eradicate greed. People would still find a way to oppress and exploit their fellow sheep, I mean people. So the fantasy doesn’t last long, but if I can think outside that box, is there a way to live outside of it? How radical would that be and how miserable might it become?

There were once a people on the land who only needed the land and what it gave. They still had war, sickness, and death, but they also had abundance without captivity. Then one day people came who promised them iPhones and Big Macs if only they would submit. They liked the gadgets and many were tricked into things because they desired to own them. But most did not want to submit. They did not need to because they already had an abundance of their own. But those who herd and farm the souls of men, need those men to submit, and depend on the cultivators and caretakers. These two ways of life could not coexist. And those that did choose to submit, fared no better in the end. They may have wished they died on the battle field with those who resisted.

A few weeks ago a SWAT team with assault rifles raided a very small acreage within the city limits of a suburb near me. The people there were producing this Creator-based kind of abundance, or at least working toward it. They desired to live in a healthy, free way that created more than enough to share with others. I guess the caretaker caught wind and didn’t approve of his sheep eating on their own pastures. There will always be conflict between those who need to leverage the labor and soldiering of the masses to keep their power and wealth (expecting gratitude in return), and those who find that path of freely giving and living.

I consider it healthy to know the truth about life, and let go of the myths. I can be content in my present outward captivity and live my rebellion of freely giving and living on the inside, no matter what my body has to do today. And maybe one day, my body will get to live where my mind does. Maybe I can learn to live on upside down priorities.