I've been a pencil pusher all my life. I worked at a desk on a computer in an office setting.
It wasn't until I left my comfortable chair that I learned about physical labour.
Since becoming semi-retired (don't forget I'm still selling coffee), my world has been expanded with shovels, hammers and wood.
Case in point. We are in the process of widening our single car driveway. I casually mentioned it to my wife's Uncle Ron, a retired farmer who can fix and build anything.
"We can do that Jeff," was his simple statement.
"Do what Ron?" was my innocent reply.
The next thing I know, he had his Bobcat tractor at my house (a 45-minute drive from his farm the next town over). Not only did he dig up the asphalt, lift fence posts out of the ground, remove trees, and bring in dirt and crushed stone for the paving job, he also decided that a retaining wall would look nice around the perimeter of the driveway before getting it paved.
Oh, did I mention that his day usually starts at 5 a.m., which was a whole new world for my 9-to-5 office brain.
I was usually on site at 7 a.m. and ready to call it a day by noon.
But not Ron. He would casually work from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. before heading home and starting his own chores.
I also appreciated that he always used the term "we" when it was really "he" doing all the creating and "me" doing the grunt work of shovelling and grabbing tools as he required them. He was the brain. I tried not to get in the way.
Building a retaining wall is a work of art and technology. Each stone has to be perfectly fitted with the use of a laser level. It's a battery-operated control tool attached to a tripod which sends out a laser beam to a measuring stick. When you get the precise level, it makes a happy beep. It's a labour-intensive process getting each stone perfectly level with the others. But what a sense of accomplishment when a row is complete and then another and another. "We" also included a flower bed into the retaining wall design to add that touch of beauty.
He also moved a shed we no longer needed. Using the tractor (the Swiss army knife of farm equipment), he lifted the shed onto a flat-bed trailer, threw two pieces of twine around it and headed down the road to his farm. What a guy. He's my new role model when it comes to getting it done.
Now we await the pavers.
And me? Well, there's a patio which needs some repairs and I am actually going to tackle it myself. That's a first for this pencil pusher.
But Ron taught me that doing it yourself is not only cheaper, but the pride in getting it done is immeasurable.